Medicine: Science, not belief

Political and scientific bodies should negate superstitious beliefs hovering in the Indian society and propagate scientific as well medical awareness

An interesting statement has been given by BJP Member of Parliament Ganesh Singh that speaking the Sanskrit language on a daily basis boosts the nervous system and keeps Diabetes and Cholesterol at bay. Earlier as well, similar statements have been given by some political leaders. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014 had said that in ancient times, Plastic Surgery in India was so well-advanced that head of an elephant could be transplanted on the human body. Taking alibi from his statement, many of their leaders jumped into the fray and started giving similar statements.

Pragya Thakur, Member of Parliament from Bhopal, came out with the statement that her Breast Cancer was cured by cow urine. However, Dr SS Rajput, a surgeon at Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, has confirmed that he had done three operations on her Breasts to get her rid of cancer. Pragya has not denied the doctor's assertion.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Trivendra Singh Rawat recently said cows are the only animal which can inhale and exhale oxygen and that massaging the animal can cure breathing problems. He further said that living in close proximity with cows can also cure Tuberculosis. The Pradesh BJP president and Nainital MP, Ajay Bhatt recently said pregnant women can avoid caesarian deliveries if they drink the water of Garud Ganga, a river in Bageshwar district.

The 'Garbh Vigyan Sanskar' propagated by Arogya Bharti advises couples to recite Shlokas at the time of mating so as to have customised babies of their choice — the Uttam Santati. They also say that they got this idea from Germany which has been brushed by the German doctors. However, they have not come out with any data confirming the number of customised babies born through this. Not only that, some ministers of the Gujarat government attended the felicitation ceremony of Tantriks.

Such statements are not limited to the political people only. In a statement of the Vice-Chancellor of Andhra Pradesh University, G Nageshwar Rao, at the Indian Science Congress in Jalandhar, said that "we had hundreds of Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell research and test tube baby technology. It happened a few thousand years ago. This was science in this country".

A retired judge of the high court of Rajasthan had given a statement that the Pea-Hen gives birth to the offspring by licking the tears of the Peacock.

We already have several obscurantist ideas and myths about the causation and treatment of disease in our society. A large number of people go to faith healers for the treatment of several diseases such as Mumps, Facial palsy and for the treatment of chickenpox. Another myth is that Jaundice is cured by perforating the eardrum and extracting jaundice out from this.

Medical science is not fiction nor is it a belief system. It is a science based on evidence. Any treatment to be undertaken has to be proved in the laboratory, then on the animals and ultimately on the human beings before that particular modality of treatment is made functional without harm to the human body. Propagation of such obscurantist ideas by the political leaders or others makes the ordinary, illiterate people believe these as gospel truth. This is not only dangerous but a criminal act which must be punishable. It is sad that the government is not only apathetic towards many irrational ideas on health but is very subtly promoting them.

It is ironical that such statements are coming up in the present times when science has advanced on the basis of evidence. It is more ironical that the resistance to such statements is not as much as it should be. The scientific or medical bodies are not coming out boldly and openly against these obscurantist and irrational unscientific ideas. Whether they are convinced by these ideas or they are afraid to come out openly, is best known to them. IPA

Views expressed are strictly personal

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