MUZAFFARGARH: The health authorities have failed to control quacks who are playing with the lives of the people in the district while prescribing herbal and allopathic medicines without any diploma or license.

In the last visit of the Punjab Healthcare Commission team to district some months back, more than 300 quacks clinics were sealed and fine was imposed on them. However, no action was taken against the quacks after that and quackery is in full swing, especially in the rural areas where these quacks do their illegal practice.

During the tenure of the PML-N government, former Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif had launched a campaign against quacks and also asked healthcare commission to hold surprise visits in the rural areas but the PTI government lacks that kind of alacrity. The district health officials claim that it is a responsibility of only the healthcare commission to control quacks and they (health officials) are helpless as every quack has got support of the politically influential people.

Dawn has learnt that dozens of quacks using the tag of hakeem have established clinics in Mahomood Kot, Khan Garh and Kot Addu. They also advertise themselves on local radio channels but the district health authority has failed to take action against them.

In last nine months, more than 400 cases have been registered against quacks and their clinics were sealed but they open businesses again despite the cases.

Talking to Dawn, a quack claimed that he and his colleagues knew every disease and it’s treatment because of experience.

Hashim Khan and Bagh Ali, old villagers at his clinic, say they are always treated by quacks and they feel shy to go to the basic health unit (BHU) where the young doctors do not know their disease and language.

A health official says there is a shortage of doctors and medicines in the rural health centres (RHCs) at Shah Jamal and Chowk Qureshi and the quacks exploit this situation.

He says Muzaffargarh has a population of 4m people but there are only 71 BHUs and 16 RHUs to cater to this huge population. In contrast, hundreds of quacks are busy treating patients and many patients have died at the hands of quacks in villages, he added.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2019