Homeopaths will they risk practicing modern medicine?
The first batch of homeopaths who pursued a year-long certificate course in modern pharmacology is set to pass out from the state’s medical colleges this year, reported Swatee Kher in TOI Pune on January 23, 2018. The story quotes the instance of a homeopath, who has been practicing homeopathy for almost 25 years and studied for the certificate course in the last year.
The Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik, which was authorized to conduct the course through affiliated colleges, had stated in the information brochure that after acquiring this qualification, homeopathic practitioners will be allowed to use modern medicine in their practice to a limited extent. The one-year course was open to graduates and diploma holders in homeopathy registered with Maharashtra Council of Homeopathy, stated the public relations section of the MUHS in an email response.
The state government had approved the course in 2014, but the decision was challenged in the Bombay high court by the Indian Medical Association. The final court order in the matter is awaited. “Maharashtra is the only state that is offering this course. The first batch has just appeared for the final examination and successful candidates will be able to practice in Maharashtra only,” said Ajit Funde, president, Maharashtra Council of Homeopathy.
During MBBS, the subject of pharmacology is taught in the 2nd Prof, where students learn the basics about various drugs, their mechanisms of action, indications and contraindications of use, adverse effects, interactions among other aspects of drug administration. They are also taught how to write a prescription… though only in a classroom at this point of time. Pharmacology is also an applied science.
During the 3rd Prof, students start to learn the application of principles of pharmacology in the ‘real world’ in patients.
But, a student who has cleared his MBBS is still not allowed to independently write a prescription. He has to wait to complete his internship before he is allowed to write a prescription for a patient.
Except for tincture homeopathy, the principles of homeopathy are very different from those of modern system of medicine. A homeopath cannot learn everything about modern drugs in a certificate course.
Courses such as this and the ‘bridging course’ as proposed in the NMC Bill, 2017 will only produce half-baked doctors and it will be the patients, who would be the ultimate losers.
Such courses would promote irrational prescribing of drugs, which may cause adverse drug reactions, result in health hazards, most notable being antimicrobial resistance, a major public health problem globally.
The rational use of medicines as described by the WHO is “patients receive medicines appropriate to their clinical needs, in doses that meet their own individual requirements, for an adequate period of time, and at the lowest cost to them and the community”. Anything contrary to these principles would mean an irrational use of medicine/s.
Irrational prescribing may be of five types: under-prescribing, over-prescribing, incorrect prescribing, extravagant prescribing and multiple prescribing (Pharmacy (Basel). 2016 Dec;4(4):35).
Similarly, off-label use of drugs should be done very carefully and not without the approval of the Ethics Committee. Where will be the check on such practices?
Another likely outcome of such courses would be that homeopaths and other Ayush doctors would have dual registration. Which council will address mistakes? Who decides accountability in case of mishaps or negligence?
Lastly, the exercise will harm homeopathy as a science. It will abolish over a period of time with the message going that homeopaths cannot even treat minor ailments.
Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
Vice President CMAAO
Group Editor-in-chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India