LATELY, there is a trend among marketers of health and beauty products to include over the top claims of how their products can cure certain medical diseases.
Most of these claims can’t be substantiated by any scientific methods. These claims are merely from testimonials of their clients after using their products.
Any inquiries made regarding these claims will be answered with accusations of the enquirer being an agent of anti-religious sentiments and Western beliefs.
Furthermore, some of these marketers claims to have titles such as “Doctor” and “Professor” from questionable universities. Some even have the title of “Sir”! Some of the professor titles are even conferred by certain companies instead of universities.
While they deny that they are deceiving the public by portraying themselves as medical doctors, their pamphlets seem to depict the contrary.
To the public, does a person wearing a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck look like a medical doctor? This is what is happening today.
Some might say that these people are not doing any wrong as they are merely helping to create a healthy lifestyle among Malaysians. But I have encountered some of these non-medical doctors giving disturbing advice to the public. Among them are:
> Diabetics should stop taking their medicine as diabetes mellitus is a disease of the mind and can be cured by a special water. All medicines prescribed by medical doctors cause hypoglycaemia and it will only do more harm;
> Hypertensive patients need not take any anti-hypertensives even though their blood pressure is 200/100 mmHg; and
> A thalassemic patient with haemoglobin of 4g/dl (severely anaemic) does not need a blood transfusion.
These dangerous types of advice are making it hard for doctors to manage patients adequately. There have been countless patients who have not come for follow-up treatment after listening to their advice. They only turn up later at the emergency department with fatal consequences.
In my short service history, I have seen countless patients with haemorrhagic stroke, diabetic ketoacidosis and acute renal failure due to non-compliance of treatment.
On questioning, it was found that these patients had been seeking advice from these non-medical doctors.
Despite this, I have yet to see any one of these “doctors” claiming responsibility for their mistakes. I have not seen any case of litigation against these “doctors”.
I have no interest here. I am just a normal medical doctor. I can easily say “these patients are looking for trouble themselves and I shouldn’t care” and wash my hands.
But as a medical professional, my job is not only to treat but also to prevent the population from getting sick. Prevention includes managing chronic diseases adequately.