July 11th, 2017
The Hippocratic Oath is an essential part of every doctor’s life when they graduate out of medical school. It entails an important message that they ought to remember throughout their lives. The oath talks about upholding the ethical standards while practising medicine. Info Clinic is one such Kerala-based organisation that is putting this pledge to its truest use.
The Logical Indian brings forth the story of Info Clinic, a team of doctors in Kerala who have spearheaded the mission of educating the common masses about correct medical practices. Speaking to The Logical Indian in an exclusive interview, Dr Shimna Azeez, a member of the group of myth-busting doctors, outlines how they aim to spread awareness among others about the ‘natural remedies’ that have been circulating the media for some time now.
What prompted the birth of Info Clinic
Info Clinic is a Facebook group of about 26 doctors that came into being on 11 October 2016 and has now reached close to 40,000 followers. Dr Shimna said, “At that point of time, there was a diphtheria outbreak in Kerala, and the quacks were circulating nonsensical remedies about the outbreak. It was not just them; the doctors have also been posting on Facebook about the vaccinations of diphtheria.” Percentage of vaccinations for diphtheria came down and there were sporadic outbreaks of the disease which was considered to be under control with the help of vaccination, across the state, Shimna said.
“But,” she explains, “the posts made by us doctors did not make many rounds in the social media. The audience was only dished out irrational cures – our posts had a very limited reach.”
It was then that the doctors decided to come under one platform and share their concern about the rising blind faith and superstition in the God’s Own Country. That was how Info Clinic was born.
“Now we have five admins of the Facebook while our members range from interns to heads of departments,” Shimna said. She adds, “Ours is a very trustworthy group where every article that goes up on the Facebook page is scrutinised and checked by experts in the field so that no wrong information is circulated.”
Spreading awareness among thousands
Info Clinic went live on 18 June on Facebook. The session lasted for around one and a half hours, and several queries of the readers were answered.
“On 6 July, a meet was arranged with the students of the Government Medical College, Manjeri. The programme had lasted for almost two hours and was a grand success,” she added.
The Info Clinic has been taking out write ups and videos in Malayalam, Shimna said that they are planning to increase the reach of the page by publishing posts in English.
Creating a stir in people’s minds
“Before Info Clinic came up, people had several doubts about many medical jargons and procedures. However, they did not have access to any portal that would clarify all their doubts. After Info Clinic has come into being, the common man can get answers to their various queries,”Shima claimed.
That the quacks were spreading misinformation was understood by everyone, but the people could not counter the logic of the fraud doctors. Info Clinic, said Shimna, has given them the credibility to fight against such fraudulent practices.
“We have received a lot of positive response from the social media – we try to be as active as possible in replying to the queries that are sent to us in the Info Clinic group so that the people feel that we are here to serve them. Info Clinic has become an authentic voice all over Kerala.”
The modern medicine practitioners are considered to mercenaries who have no concern for the well-being of the patients and are interested only in exploiting them, Shima said. “Info Clinic wishes to change that outlook about doctors and has attained some success in the last few months,” she added.
Shimna shared an experience that pointed out the level of popularity of the Info Clinic. “We had reported about Hijama (or cupping) method of treatment which is an entirely unscientific method. But we received a lot backlash from the people who carry out Hijama; our Facebook post was removed for 24 hours,” she said.
“Info Clinic has also raised its voice against the remedy of extract of raw papaya leaves that was prescribed by many during the outbreak of dengue. It was portrayed that the blood platelets of the person would increase if one consumes papaya seeds – Info Clinic busted this myth vociferously through its social media posts,” Shimna explained.
“However, it was this time we saw the amount of mass support that we had garnered when we saw entire Kerala standing with us – our posts were shared massively,” she beamed.
Info Clinic’s fight against superstition and dogmas
“As long as a medical treatment has been tested through Randomized Control Trial (RCT), it is good to go and cure patients,” Shimna explained. “However anything that has not been tested should not be used for treatment. Info Clinic intends to bring forward such unscientific practices that end up harming people,” she added.
It is heartening to see how superstitious practices still have a strong hold over people’s minds when it comes to treatment of ailments. “Only the other day, we got to know of a case where a dead body of a man was kept by the family for three months in the hope that the corpse will turn alive again,” Shimna said in a shocked manner.
“Often we come across instances when families have preferred ritualistic healing procedures over scientific ones- that have resulted in deterioration of their health and eventual death,” she explained.
Info Clinic intends to wage war against any such unscientific practices that instead of yielding positive results end up harming the patients.
The Logical Indian community applauds the efforts of the Kerala doctors who have taken up a fight against superstition and blind faith. In a country where people are killed for their fights against superstitions, it is important to have groups like Info Clinic who raise their voices against fraudulent medical practices.