The Lagos State Government, through the Lagos State Health Facility Monitoring and Accreditation Agency (HEFAMAA) has disclosed that it shut 40 health facilities in the past six months due to quackery and other infractions. Quackery is the characteristic practice of quacks or charlatans, who pretend to have knowledge, skill, qualifications or credentials that they do not possess, particularly in medicine. It is often synonymous to health fraud and practitioners often promote fraudulent or ignorant medical practices.
HEFAMAA executive secretary, Dr. Abiola Idowu, spoke at a stakeholder’s engagement meeting, which was held in Ikeja (Lagos), with the theme, “Combating Quackery in the Health Sector: Strengthening Stakeholders Collaboration and Regulatory Oversight.” She stated that the majority of the health facilities were shut because they were unregistered. She added that these health facilities also committed other infractions, which includes operating without the required personnel or practicing beyond the scope of approval. The doctor said that there was a need to expand its stakeholders’ engagement to include policemen, who are key in combating this problem.
Stakeholders’ engagement aimed at better collaboration.
Dr. Idowu lamented that quackery had eaten deep into Nigerian society and that there was an urgent need to combat it. HEFAMAA chairman, Dr. Yemisi Solanke-Koya, said that the stakeholders’ engagement was put together for better collaboration with critical players in the sector as they are key to curbing the menace in the state. She stated that it is an issue across Nigeria but that Lagos wanted to be ahead in checking its menace.
In his keynote address, the former Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Professor Akin Osibogun, said that community collaboration is critical to checking quackery. He said that regulators and monitors must maintain reliable intelligence of their environment and be in charge of their environment. He advised on health monitoring and regulatory agencies in the country to be strict in applying stipulated sanctions and in continuously updating the knowledge of their staff members to enable them carry out their duties effectively.
Alternative medicine the most difficult form of quackery.
Speaking on the theme of the workshop, Prof. Osibogun said that consumer ignorance, desperation and ungoverned health space are some of the causes in the country. He emphasized that quackery could be practised by both professionals and non-professionals. According to him, when a person in one professional specialty lays claims to have the ability to perform processes not within his or her professional purview, that person is aiming to deceive patients and by definition, qualified as a quack.
In addition, he said that the most difficult forms to control are those hiding under the banners of complementary and alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine despite lacking biological plausibility, testability, repeatability or evidence of effectiveness. In other words, the form of medical practice, usually traditional or herbal, that claims to be able to achieve what orthodox doctors can do is known as alternative medicine. It is the most difficult form of quackery largely because they often appear to be qualified to the unsuspecting and ignorant, and they possess a lot of confidence.
The keys to eradicating this menace from society.
Meanwhile, Prof. Osibogun said that the ways of controlling quackery include community education and awareness, provision and access to quality health services, professional regulation and health facility regulation and monitoring. The recent exposure detailing the lack of medical care provided by one Baba Aisha, who claimed to be able to heal many ailments through his herbal concoction sold for N100 a bottle. When people do not have the financial means to go to hospital to get basic checkups, they turn to people like this for a solution. His products have been tested and found to be harmful to human health.