A CAPSULE to fight quacks in Kerala

Forum opposes illegal advertisements of unauthorised medical practitioners

Kerala Agriculture Minister V.S. Sunil Kumar was scheduled to open a hospital in Thrissur on June 6 that offered a mix of “traditional Indian medicine,” Homoeopathy, “traditional native medicine”, Naturopathy, and German, Korean and Chinese treatment methods. The hospital owner claimed he had a “doctorate” in “plansopathy.”

The Minister decided to keep off the event after widespread criticism online and offline. In the forefront of the protests were activists of CAPSULE (Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics), an initiative of the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP).

The idea of CAPSULE was raised after a group of social activists launched a legal battle against a doctor in Thiruvananthapuram who gave advertisements in major newspapers claiming to cure diabetes, cancer and thyroid diseases.

Both the State Drugs Control Department and the Kerala State Human Rights Commission issued orders against the doctor later.

‘Threat to public health’

Activists of the forum claim to oppose illegal advertisements of medical treatment methods and unauthorised medical practitioners which pose a threat to the public health system.

M.P. Anil Kumar, convener, CAPSULE, told The Hindu that the Supreme Court had banned traditional or native medical practices in an order on April 13, 2018.

“Only those registered under the Travancore-Cochin Medical Council can be Ayurveda practitioners. Sections 3 and 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, also prevent advertisements of medical treatment or medicine that claim to cure a particular disease,” he said.

When a survey of advertisements published in 22 major newspapers from Thiruvananthapuram between October 1 and 7 last year was taken, both legal and illegal medical practitioners were found involved in giving illegal information.

“Sixteen newspapers were found carrying 80 such advertisements on a single day. There were 74 people or firms who gave those advertisements,” he said.

Most of those advertisements dealt with diseases that many people might not wish to discuss in public. “This ensures that even if the treatment is a failure, the patients may not complain against it,” he said.

Joining hands

CAPSULE is working in association with organisations such as the Indian Medical Association and the Ayurveda Medical Association of India. K. Radhan, general secretary, KSSP, said the forum, functioning under the health committee of the organisation, would continue to bring to the attention of government departments and the judiciary about such practices. “We will also circulate messages about the issue through social media platforms,” he added.

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