PESHAWAR: The satellite TV channels and FM radios continue to promote quackery despite directives by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) not to air health-related advertisements without permission of the government.

Even some mainstream satellite Pashto channels air such programmes in which the unqualified doctors offer treatment for all ailments.

The homoeopaths have become radio jockeys for music and entertainment programme during which they take phone calls of people and advise them cure for diabetes, infertility, obesity, prostrate and other chronic sicknesses besides acting as salesmen to seek market for beauty products.

HCC asks Pemra to take action against such channels

The directives issued to all TV and radio channels on July 30 by Pemra have fallen on deaf ears as promotion of unqualified medical practitioners are in full swing. These channels and radios conduct interviews with unqualified doctors, mostly homoeopaths, who also take live calls from the listeners and advise them treatment. They also tell the addresses of their clinics.

The Pemra’s letter says that some satellite TV channels and FM radio stations are broadcasting advertisements pertaining to various healthcare services, some of which fall under quackery as they are not even registered with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commissions.

All Pemra licence holders are obliged to ensure that all advertisements are in conformity with the laws for the time being enforced under clause 14(1) of Electronic Media (Programmes and Advertisements) Code of Conduct, 2015.

A licence holder is also responsible, under clause 14(5) of the code, to ensure that no health-related advertisements are aired without permission of the federal or provincial governments.

The instructions by Pemra came in response to a complaint lodged by KP HCC on July 8 wherein it asked to check such illegal and unethical promotional tactics by the channels and radios to safeguard the people from health hazards.

The HCC was established under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission Act 2015 to regulate health services in both private and public sectors. “It has also been mandated to make provisions for safe and high quality healthcare services to the people of the province,” said the HCC’s letter.

It is mandatory to provide a mechanism for banning quackery in all its forms and manifestations and to establish the writ of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“As per section 12 (2) of the law a private healthcare establishment shall not provide healthcare services without being registered,” it said.

According to it, as per section 2 (i) of the Act, healthcare establishment, means a hospital, diagnostic centre, blood bank, nursing home, maternity home, medical, dental, homeopathy, Tibb, acupuncture and physiotherapy clinic or any other premises or conveyance that is wholly or partly used for providing healthcare services in public and private sectors and is declared by the commission as a healthcare establishment.

The HCC has asked Pemra to issue directives to the respective channels to check their registration with the former before broadcasting them.

HCC chief executive officer Azaar Sardar told Dawn that it was the responsibility of Pemra to stop such illegal advertisements and ensure that they did not cause harm to people’s health.

“We will again remind the authority to take action because it is our duty to check unlawful practices,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 14th, 2019

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