Health Coun­cil warns against lo­cal heal­ers

In case of death by a lo­cal treat­ment, there are no laws or rules to hold any­body ac­count­able

Business Bhutan - - Front Page - Lucky Wangmo from Thim­phu

The Bhutan Med­i­cal and Health Coun­cil (BMHC) has no­ti­fied the general pub­lic to seek pro­fes­sional med­i­cal as­sis­tance in­stead of seek­ing help from lo­cal heal­ers.

This was fol­low­ing a post on so­cial me­dia by the head and neck sur­geon at Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Na­tional Re­fer­ral Hospi­tal (JDWNRH), Dr Phub Tsh­er­ing, where he wrote “goi­ters are sucked, squeezed and thrashed by the lo­cal heal­ers be­fore com­ing to us for de­fin­i­tive treat­ment. Not ac­cept­able in a coun­try where modern health care is to­tally free to its ci­ti­zens.”

BMHC an­nounced that pa­tients should seek med­i­cal as­sis­tance when sick or some ab­nor­mal­ity ap­pears on the body.

“Suck­ing of goi­ters or any other swelling pose risk to

pa­tients and the per­son con­duct­ing the un­eth­i­cal prac­tices, which are very dan­ger­ous pro­ce­dures,” states the no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

It also added that there is a high risk of ac­quir­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases and cross trans­mis­sion of in­fec­tious dis­eases to the pa­tients and per­son who con­duct un­eth­i­cal prac­tices.

Dr. Phub Tsh­er­ing told Busi­ness Bhutan that seek­ing help from lo­cal heal­ers is most com­mon among the ru­ral peo­ple as com­pared to the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion.

Dr. Phub Tsh­er­ing nar­rated the in­stance when a woman was re­ferred to him from the OPD (Out Pa­tient Depart­ment) when he no­ticed signs of lo­cal treat­ment. There were im­prints of suck­ing and skin dis­col­oration on the neck of the woman.

He said the main rea­sons for peo­ple seek­ing lo­cal heal­ers is their strong faith in tra­di­tional heal­ing and also the fear of un­der­go­ing surgery at the hospi­tal.

“Suck­ing of the goi­ters is dan­ger­ous. The main threat is con­tam­i­na­tion as lo­cal heal­ers might not have the con­cept of ster­il­iza­tion,” he said.

Shar­ing another case, Dr. Phub Tsh­er­ing said that in 2015, a woman who had a swelling on her neck sought help from lo­cal heal­ers. There were teeth im­prints on the neck which had got in­fected and the in­fec­tion had spread to her chest. “She nearly lost her life,” said Dr. Phub Tsh­er­ing.

Sim­i­larly, a month back, a woman who was suf­fer­ing from tongue cancer sought lo­cal treat­ment. Her left side of the neck had a swelling and the lo­cal healer put hot com­pres­sion burn­ing her neck.

“Lo­cal treat­ments leave scar­ring be­neath the tis­sue and some­times make op­er­a­tions dif­fi­cult,” he said.

He also added that though peo­ple should re­spect their cul­ture and re­li­gion, any­thing that cause harm to the body should be avoided.

“If it is a or per­form­ing it is okay, but any­thing to do with the body should not be al­lowed,” he said.

BMHC so far has re­ceived four com­plaints; how­ever, many cases go un­re­ported. The Deputy Regis­trar of BMHC, Nima San­gay, said that faith in lo­cal treat­ment is much stronger and is the first choice of peo­ple in the lo­cal­ity.

Dr. Dorji Tsh­er­ing of Bajo Hospi­tal, Wang­due, said that on an av­er­age, he has en­coun­tered about three to four such cases every month.

He said that pa­tients seek de­layed med­i­cal treat­ment af­ter go­ing for lo­cal treat­ment, which could some­times lead to de­for­mity or dis­abil­ity es­pe­cially in cases of frac­ture or bone in­jury.

“Af­ter the lo­cal treat­ment, pain turns too se­vere or re­sults in swelling. Then, pa­tients come to the hospi­tal, but still refuse to come clean about go­ing for lo­cal treat­ment,” he said, adding that pa­tients lie about the du­ra­tion of sick­ness and also need to be probed about their treat­ment his­tory.

Peo­ple un­der­go­ing lo­cal treat­ment for a frac­ture are at risk of malu­nion or nonunion.

A malu­nion is a clin­i­cal term used to in­di­cate that a frac­ture has healed, but that it has healed in less than an op­ti­mal po­si­tion. whereas nonunion is a se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tion of a frac­ture and may oc­cur when the frac­ture moves too much, has poor blood sup­ply or gets in­fected.

“It could lead to re­stricted move­ment, loss of func­tion or par­tial dis­abil­ity or de­for­mity,” he said.

Dr. Dorji Tsh­er­ing also said that there is risk of in­fec­tion as well es­pe­cially in cases of dis­eases that are trans­mit­ted through bod­ily fluid or blood.

He en­coun­tered a case where a pa­tient had full blown sep­ticemia – in­fec­tion of the blood stream. The pa­tient had to un­dergo ad­vanced an­tibi­otic treat­ment.

How­ever, though com­plaints reach the BMHC, there is noth­ing much the coun­cil can do. “We have no right, and the lo­cal heal­ers are not within our Act,” said Nima San­gay, adding that the coun­cil can only cre­ate aware­ness through pub­lic no­ti­fi­ca­tions and general warn­ings.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view, Busi­ness Bhutan found out that though the records main­tained with Depart­ment of Tra­di­tional Medicine Ser­vices (DTMS) show the ex­is­tence of about 500 lo­cal heal­ers in the coun­try, a sur­vey con­ducted in Samtse, Pema­gat­sel and Samtse in 2015 re­veal a new higher es­ti­mate of over 3,000 heal­ers across the coun­try.

In case of death by a lo­cal treat­ment, there are no laws or rules to hold any­body ac­count­able.

Works un­der­way in Samtse to give the town the much-awaited facelift.

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