By Stefanos Evripidou
THE ECONOMIC crisis has seen an increase in quackery that is getting out of control, warned a Cyprus Medical Association (CMA) official yesterday.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, chairman of the CMA’s Ethics Committee Dr Vasos Economou said charlatan ‘doctors’ are finding fertile ground in Cyprus due to the economic crisis, particularly in the area of traditional medicine.
The so-called quacks charge anywhere between €100 and €1,000 a visit, said Economou.
“Due to the economic crisis, the situation is out of control. Cyprus has filled with cheats who attract cancer patients dying in their last stages,” said Economou.
The ethics committee head said there are cases where traditional medicine correctly determines that science has done all it can, and offers the patient painkillers and palliative care, but doctors operating without any specialisation in oncology, and non-doctors are telling these dying patients to stop the pills and use a special machine, or aromas or plants to stop the cancer.
Economou said the CMA’s disciplinary committee is examining a case where a doctor, despite not having any specialisation in oncology started receiving cancer patients because his own specialisation was not making enough money. Now, the doctor receives patients from Cyprus and abroad.
The CMA ethics head spoke of another case where a nature-therapist put a patient on a machine that can supposedly diagnose everything, how long the person will live, what diseases they have etc.
The therapist told the patient to stop taking drugs for hypertension and gave her herbal remedies, increasing the patient’s blood pressure and causing her eyes to bleed.
Economou said two Greek nationals with no medical training come to Cyprus and talk on TV about religion and the energy of the universe.
“One of these people has already been reported to police. He comes, gathers patients and takes them on trips to Greek islands for a rest, pocketing the money from the trips. He also stops their normal treatment, makes them fast and causes their condition to regress.”
Police are also investigating a case in Paphos where a person with no medical training, applied Botox injections on a woman, disfiguring her.
Economou called on the courts to make an example of these “mafiosi” and issue tough sentences to deter such acts.
According to the CMA official, doctors in the private sector suffered a major blow from the economic crisis, as all workers have, and realised it is easier to make money from this kind of ‘medicine’ than traditional medicine.
“We are working in cooperation with the police, the legal service and we hope to succeed in eliminating this phenomenon for the good of our society.”
Economou explained that there were two types of quackery being performed in Cyprus. The first is charlatans who are practising medicine but are not doctors.
They are mostly in a profession connected to medicine, like pharmacists, nurses, acupuncturists, physiotherapists etc. The second category is those who have absolutely nothing to do with medicine and pretend to be doctors.
He argued that the CMA wants to bring order to the profession by checking and approving specializations and machines used by practitioners.
“If a doctor worked years abroad and learns some medical procedures that are practiced and popular, this does not mean that when he returns to his country he is entitled to practice what he learnt – to use leeches, phytotherapy, aromatherapy etc,” he said.