TRAI petitioned to act on medicine ‘doctors’ airing shows on TV

Chennai: For a long time now, shows on TV about curing illnesses by doctors practising different forms of medicine have been happening in our State. However, recently, the Tamilnadu Board of Indian Medicine has filed a complaint with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) seeking to stop broadcast of such programmes.

The petition was filed by Tamilnadu Board of Indian Medicine and State Siddha Medical Council Registrar, G Rajasekaran. Explaining his stand, he said, “As per medical code of ethics it is illegal to air or advertise programmes claiming cure for diseases on any medium. The practitioners can only create awareness.”

The Part IV of Code of Ethics strictly bars promotion of drugs and treatment and it states, ‘Solicitation of patients directly or indirectly either personally or by advertisement in the newspaper, by placards or by distribution of circular cards or hand bills by a practitioner of Indian medicine is unethical. A practitioner shall not make use of or aid or permit others to make use of him or his name and / or photograph as subject of any form or manner of advertising or publicity. This provision shall not apply to authors of purely medical literature written for the advancement of the profession and science.’

Rajasekaran says: “The doctors and management officials here have been receiving several complaints from patients about the ‘magic cure’ for certain diseases being proclaimed by the hosts. We had also written individually to several television channels but were told that TRAI is the nodal board, following which a copy of the complaint has been shared with them.”

Asked about the information available on the Internet, he said, “We were informed by officials that the online content cannot be controlled which is the reason we decided to approach TRAI for monitoring television.”

Further, the Registrar stated that only one channel had responded that they would stop airing such shows, and said, “We are unsure if they have stopped telecasting the programme.”

Elaborating on the ethics issue, Government Yoga and Naturopathy Medical College and Hospital assistant professor, Dr Y Deepa, who had been doing shows for two years on TV, said, “There is no harm in spreading the ‘science’ behind it and not the ‘drug’. Though the hospitals and doctors can share the treatment, they cannot advertise the infrastructure facilities and equipment they have. A thorough check should also be conducted to ensure that such doctors are registered with the council.”

Another doctor from the hospital added, “Common knowledge can be disseminated but the doctors cannot proclaim that only they can cure the malady.”

The complaint filed with TRAI read, “It is observed that quacks, without proper medical education and without proper registration, in any council, appear on television and promise miracle cures and thereby cheat.”

Bhavani Prabhakar