Traditional doctors not denied the right to prescribe modern medicines.

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The supposed letter that was out in the news threatening to take legal action against traditional medical practitioners who prescribe modern medicines has turned out to be fake. The letter which came out in August 2010 signed by Dr. A.R.N. Setalvad, the former MCI claimed that the action would be a part of the anti quackery campaign which was to be launched on the 2nd of October. The content defined quacks as those doctors who had degrees in traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha but prescribed modern medicines.

The Medical Council of India has confirmed that they have not sent out this letter. This letter had become a matter of concern and annoyance to students who were sometimes forced to prescribe modern medicines, especially in rural areas where doctors with MBBS degrees weren’t always available. The letter had called on district authorities to keep traditional practitioners “under strict and close supervision” and to launch legal action under Sections 419 and 420 (impersonation and cheating) of the Indian Penal Code against any of these practitioners who prescribed modern drugs.

Dr. Mahendra Pratap Sharma stated that it would have been injustice to brand traditional medical doctors as cheats after decades of providing service to people. He also added that he has personally prescribed modern medications for fever, septicaemia, hypertension and even for heart attacks.

“This is obvious mischief-mongering,” said Bharat Bhushan, a former assistant registrar at the CCIM. “It could have been aimed at creating trouble for the government and confusion for district-level authorities.”

The CCIM had sent a query to the MCI about the issue to which it had responded on the 16th of November that it had issued no such letter. The CCIM also mailed a letter to all its recipients stating that the earlier letter was fake on 24th November.

Graduates of traditional medical systems have to study for 6 years to formally complete their education programme similar to a MBBS programme. The denial of rights to prescribe modern medicines to these doctors will harm a lot of patients, quoted Dr. Sharma.

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