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CHENNAI: Practitioners of alternative medicine other than Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani and Homeopathy are not authorised to call themselves doctors or prescribe medicines but an unrecognised panel — National Board of Alternative Medicine— has used state machinery to obtain legal sanctity for hundreds of illegal physicians.
Starting in 2013, this ‘board’ published in the Tamil Nadu Government Gazette the names of 522 individuals as alternative medicine practitioners. This continued for at least two years before the state health department discovered the fraud.
TOI has accessed at least seven lists the board published up to 2015. The board of alternative medicine’s deception was deceptively simple in practice; the ease with which it pulled off the con, in the official state publication, is astounding.
One of the lists, in Part VI - Section 4 (Supplement) of the gazette dated March 26, 2014, for instance, states, under the banner of National Board of Alternative Medicine: “The executive committee of board has been authorised as per the byelaws and a resolution passed in the general body meeting. The following members have been approved and enrolled in the register of National Board of Alternative Medicines as Registered Alternative Medical Practitioners...” It then lists close to 90 people as registered alternative medical practitioners.
“It said ‘National Board’, so we initially thought it was from the health department,” said stationery and printing department director J Jayakanthan, who is responsible for gazette printing. “It was a private advertisement. Officials recently told us this board is not recognised. We don’t allow such things anymore. ”
Will take action against quacks: Health secy
The state medical council last Thursday filed a complaint against Jayapandi Karuppusamy, one of the illegal physicians whose names the gazette published in the 2014 list mentioned above, for submitting fake degree certificates from Annamalai University and faking a temporary registration certificate to enable his medical practice. The alternative medicine board presented his registration number as 02925.
“This guy faked his degree and even managed to register himself as doctor in the gazette,” Tamil Nadu State Medical Council president Dr K Senthil said.
The state directorate of medical and rural health services said it had booked a large number of alternative medicine practitioners for quackery over the past few years. “Those holding degrees recognised by the Medical Council of India — MBBS (allopathy), Central Council for Indian Medicine (ayurveda, siddha, unani and homeopathy) and Ayush (yoga and naturopathy) — are allowed to call themselves doctors,” said director of medical and rural health services Dr M R Enbasekaran.
“Such advertisements are illegal. The board offers courses in alternative medicine that the government does not recognise,” he said.
Another senior official said the advertisement was a blessing in disguise: “It’s wrong on their part to advertise themselves as doctors,” he said. “They cannot [legally] use the ‘Dr’ prefix. We initially thought we should take them to court over this. But we now have a list of at least 500 people’s names along with their addresses. We have now obtained permission from the state health department to initiate action against all of them.”
State health secretary J Radhakrishnan said the state will take action against quacks and initiate criminal proceedings against individuals who fake medical degrees.
“Quackery is one of the biggest public health menaces,” he said. “We will deal with it firmly and if we find people faking medical degree certificates, we will take criminal action against them.”