• Issue has not come to my notice: Drug Controller
• 33 drug shops sealed, drive on to curb menace: BMO
In the aftermath of a shocking episode of a fake doctor, at least 16 government teachers in Burn village in north Kashmir’s Pattan Township have been found running unregistered chemist shops during a drive, officials said on Thursday.
In the past 11 days, the mushrooming growth of illegal drug shops/stores has prompted authorities to seal these shops.
“We have sealed 33 clinics, which were operating without licenses. At Burn village, we were astonished to see 16 government school teachers and an employee of Public Health Engineering (PHE) running drug shops around a primary health centre,” said Dr Masrat Iqbal Wani, Block Medical Officer (BMO) Pattan.
He said the teachers were running these private drug shops during evening hours without the licenses and were locally recognized as “doctors”.
“We are continuously holding drives and we wouldn’t allow the illegal practices which is taking a heavy toll on patient care,” Wani said.
He said during the drives they are facing stiff resistance from the drug shop owners and that they are threatened by them.
“At Burn village, we found many of teachers selling steroid injections, which are harmful to the kidney,” the BMO said.
“We were also shocked to see the drug owners rampantly selling codeine syrup bottles to the youth.”
The BMO said they have also forwarded an official letter to Education department and PHE for immediate suspension of the employees.
Health officials complain that there is no manpower available with the Drug and Food Control Organization, which has given rise to the chemist shops.
“They have spoiled the image of good chemists. We seek public support in order to check the mess,” said an official.
Drug Controller, J&K, Lotika Khajuria was not aware of the illegal chemist shops and said that they have sealed many illegal chemist shops in the past.
“A government employee can’t run a chemist shop. The issue has not come to my notice till now as the concerned officials have not shared any such information with me,” she said.
“I will look into it once I get the list of the chemist shops. We have in the past closed many such shops,” Khajuria said.
A doctor at Sub-District Hospital Pattan accused the Drug and Food Control Organization of failing to take action against the fake chemists.
“For one license, the drug control organization gets two lakh rupees. Even barbers have licenses here. This is very unfortunate. Authorities must wake up and act strictly,” he said.
Assistant Controller Drugs, north Kashmir, Mohammad Bashir told Rising Kashmir that they issue the licenses after proper verification and are “helpless against people who run drug shops illegally”.
“What happens, if a person who has a license and gets government job his license is cancelled. We are monitoring the drug shops and are in the field,” he said.
Bashir said he recently held a meeting with the concerned Chief Medical Officer. “We will initiate stern action against the persons who run clinics illegally. We have asked concerned officers to extend the drives,” he said.
Director General Health Services, Dr Saleem Ur Rehman has hailed the health officials for closing the drug shops.
He blamed the drug control organization for not taking any action.
“Technically we are not supposed to close these shops, but I have asked the concerned BMOs to seal the shops after we received complaints from public. Our employees are facing resistance,” he said. “The question is why these shops are running openly,” DG asked.
Last month, police arrested Tariq Ahmad Telli, a self-proclaimed doctor, who was exposed after a video went viral on social media showing him practicing at three different clinics in north Kashmir.
Four days ago Directorate of Health Services Kashmir raided the clinic of Lateef Khan at Khonomoh and sealed his clinic after it found that the concerned was illegally practicing as a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP).