Delhi Police has failed to take action against more than 500 people impersonating doctors in the capital and, thereby putting the lives of hundreds of patients at risk, according to data available with the Delhi Medical Council (DMC).
Between 2012 and September 2018, the DMC asked police to register cases against 700 people, who are proven to be quacks and cannot practice allopathy. The data states that of these cases, police registered FIRs against 135 quacks. In the remaining 565 cases, however, no FIRs have been lodged.
As per the official procedure, if any person files a report against a practicing doctor to the medical council, it issues a show-cause notice to the doctor concerned. If the practicing doctor is found guilty, the council registers a police complaint. Police further registers an FIR, after which the case is taken to court.
What WHO report says
The report, Health Workforce in India, says that in 2001, 31% fake doctors were educated till secondary level, while 57% did not have proper qualifications. The report states there are 80 doctors for every one lakh people. But this number drops to 36 when allopathic, homeopathic, unani and ayurvedic doctors without degrees are excluded, it states.
According to a rough estimate by the council, there are around 50,000 quacks in the capital — most of whom operate in north and west Delhi areas.
“These quacks do not have valid degrees to treat people. In the absence of any action against them, they continue to offer wrong treatment. Several reminders have been sent to police this year, requesting that they initiate action against such quacks,” alleged DMC registrar Dr Girish Tyagi.
Responding to the claim, DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said, “Even registering FIRs in 135 cases is quite a number. As soon as we receive a complaint from the medical council, we verify the clinic or the practicing doctor. In many cases, by the time we receive the complaint, either the clinic is shut or the accused doctor has shifted base. We have been regularly trying to address the complaints from the council.”
Earlier, this year, the council had planned a door-to-door survey to estimate the number of quacks operating in the city. But the idea never took off. “The survey has been dropped due to administrative issues. The companies that had applied to conduct the survey failed to meet the requirements,” said Dr Tyagi.
In 2014, the Delhi High Court had ruled that at least one raid should be conducted in each of the 11 districts every month to crack down on people posing as doctors. It had also asked police and the Delhi government to form guidelines to curb the menace. As per fresh guidelines issued after the HC order, if the council receives a complaint, it must complete the doctor’s verification process within 72 hours.
In January this year, Union Health Minister J P Nadda, in a written response to a question raised in the Lok Sabha, called “erroneous” a World Health Organisation report that claimed 57% allopathic doctors are fake.