KOZHIKODE: There is a cancerous growth of fake medical practitioners in the state who make money by claiming to cure cancer through alternative medicines. The most affected are child patients whose parents are made to drop modern medicines in favour of herbal medicines after the initial treatment and in the process endanger their children's lives. Doctors in the Government Medical College Hospital here are apprehensive of the racket of such practitioners and say the children either die or return in a worse condition. The number of child cancer patients is also on the rise with at least one new patient seeking treatment every week.
Dr V.T. Ajithkumar, who had been treating the child patients of the leukaemia ward (ward 45) at the medical college for almost a decade, said that while the survival rate was only 20 per cent in the 1960s, it had increased to 80 to 90 per cent now. But these practitioners and their agents lure the parents claiming to cure the disease fully with herbal medicines. "Once the children who begin to recover are taken out of our medicine protocol, their chances of survival are less even if they are brought back after trying alternative medicines. Even the newborns are detected with cancer these days and they do not stick to the medicine protocol," said Dr Ajithkumar, who recently shifted to Manjeri Medical College.
There are currently 60 children in the ward. Ms Deepa Ajith, secretary of Caring for Childhood Cancer and Chronic Illness (C4CCCI), a joint venture of the department of paediatrics and pain and palliative centre, said a six-year-old girl had recently passed away after moving out of the ward in the final stage of the treatment. "The families of the patients in the ward are closely knit after spending time together for nearly three years for the treatment. So, once the outside practitioners or agents approach one family, the message is spread to the others also, and they gradually drop the treatment here," Ms Deepa said.
Health Minister K.K. Shailaja told this newspaper that stringent action would be taken against the fakes who practise without licences or certificates. An awareness campaign will be held through a state-wide cancer care project. A pilot project will be launched in Kannur in two weeks, the minister added. "There are limitations in preventing the parents of child patients from approaching the fakes. However, the state has charted out an awareness campaign against such practices," she said....