Get rid of the quacks

NEWS that police have swooped on illegal surgeries, shut them down and arrested the bogus doctors who operated them comes as a great relief.

For too long these charlatans have preyed on the vulnerabilities of our people, dispensing medicine of which they could hardly fathom the potency.

From the time the term "moonlighting" entered public discourse, authentic doctors with a dishonest streak saw a gap to make a quick buck. Using one medical certificate and practice number, doctors have been avariciously growing a number of satellite surgeries which, because they could not service in person, were staffed with quacks instead.

In their simultaneous raids on these bogus establishments on Wednesday in Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern and Western Cape the police confiscated a variety of items, among them fake medical qualification certificates issued in Nigeria.

It would be easy to apportion blame and reduce this to a Nigerian scam. But doing so would be disingenuous. According to the Health Professions Council of South Africa there is a worrying increase in the number of bogus doctors in the country.

This mushrooming of fakes is helped by greedy qualified doctors who see the desperation of their patients as a ticket to getting rich quick.

Police investigations showed that "each of the two genuine doctors owned at least three private practices that they allegedly staffed with quacks".

The law must come down hard on these miscreants who violate the noble Hippocratic Oath.

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