Regulation of quackery amid unprecedented HIV outbreak in Sindh, Pakistan
Objective: To assess the problem of unlicensed practitioners and quacks in Sindh, Pakistan.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 29 districts of Sindh province in Pakistan from December 2019 to January 2020. Initial data available with Sindh Health Department about locations where quacks were practicing was used to identify unlicensed practitioners. A structured questionnaire was developed which contained information about certification of practitioners and an observational checklist was developed to assess infection prevention and control practices (IPC) and injection safety.
Results: A total of 4315 private practitioners were inspected out of which 3022 (70%) were unlicensed health practitioners belonging to different categories. Within the six surveyed divisions of Sindh, the highest proportion of unlicensed practitioners were documented in Shaheed Benazirabad division (n=739; 24.5%) followed by Hyderabad (n=599; 19.8%). In Mirpur Khas, there were 510 (16.9%), in Karachi 310 (10.3%), in Sukkur 484 (16%) and in Larkana there were 380 (12.6%) unlicensed practitioners. Poor IPC was observed in 89.4% (3861/4315) of all health providers. Reuse of syringes and intravenous drip sets was observed among 78.7% (1916/2432) of the untrained providers across the province. It was also found that 155 MBBS doctors had given their names on rent to be used as a signboard outside the clinics of some of the unlicensed practitioners.