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Home birth adventures jeopardising Kerala's health model

Home birth adventures jeopardising Keralas health model


Kerala is a state that has made many achievements in the field of health, which have set models for the world. It is undisputed that Kerala is far ahead of other states in any health-related parameters ranging from life expectancy to maternal and child mortality. After the health revolution centred in Travancore at the end of the 19th century, it was made more systematized and popularized after the unified Kerala became a reality and the health and treatment field, that is so different from other states and even compared to developed countries, became possible in Kerala. In that sense, the health model can be seen as a natural continuation of the Kerala Renaissance, which prepared the soil and the people that could claim to be enlightened. However, the distortions that are happeningis no more news today, but only common occurrences that keep repeating. Home birth is a new trend among them that has come in recently. The dangers posed by these childbirth stunts in the name of alternative treatments such as naturopathy and acupuncture are not small. In August 2022, the death of a baby near Tirur in Malappuram district, following home birth had created big controversy. Now, a woman and her baby have died during delivery at home at Karakkamandapam in Thiruvananthapuram district. They decided to give birth at home after listening to the advice of a fake acupuncturist. A case has been registered against the woman's husband in the incident.

The health department itself testifies that the home birth rate is increasing in Kerala. It is estimated that up to 700 home childbirths take place the state every year. Despite the availability of government and private hospitals that can be reached within half an hour, barring some tribal village areas in the state, if people are opting for home births, that may have to be attributed to the alternative treatment lobbies. Labour rooms prepared by alternative medicine lobbies, who blindly oppose modern medicine, are turning into death traps. A few years ago, two babies and a mother died in a three-month period in a 'home birth' centres, in the name of 'water birth' in Malappuram district. The findings of the district administration, which investigated the matter, were shocking. Healers have learned how to give birth from social media platforms like YouTube. Similarly, fake acupuncturists are now running such maternity centres in many parts of Kerala, and the phrase 'fake acupunture' is to be underlined here, because they are promoting a completely fake medicine which cannot even be called a 'therapy, and that has nothing to do with acupuncture therapy, which is approved by the World Health Organization and is very popular in China. The truth is that that family in Thiruvananthapuram fell into the trap of these false propagandists. It has been at least ten years since fake healers became active in Kerala in the name of acupuncture. It is easy to understand that these people, who have shown hostility to the treatment methods of modern medicine, are working against even the basic principles of acupuncture, which are universally accepted.

In fact, acupuncture has yet to be recognized by our government as a recognized mainstream medical practice. A bill regarding its approval is pending in Parliament. At the same time, limited practice (as a complementary medicine) is permitted in the country. The central government had issued an order in this regard 20 years ago. The order states that those with postgraduate diplomas in acupuncture along with a recognized medical degree can practice treatment. in other words, if anyone wants to practice acupuncture in the country, they must have one of the medical degrees like MBBS, BHMS, BAMS, etc. There is a small group of doctors working here who provide such treatment. However, none of this applies to the aforementioned quacks. The propagandists and practitioners of acupuncture thrive, often without even a basic education in science. Earlier, it was big news that the treatment given by them to diabetic and epilepsy patients resulted in major mishaps and deaths. But it's a pity that all that ended up as mere news. Since acupuncture is not a medicinal system, it does not fall under the definition of 'treatment' in current legal proceedings, so all legal proceedings in such matters are limited to paper. Therefore, fakers easily escape from the clutches of the law. Now, the same is likely to happen in the Thiruvananthapuram incident. Therefore, mere routine measures will not be enough to stop the home birth adventures and fake treatment that are destroying the health model. Strict legislation is essential in this regard, as has been done in Maharashtra and West Bengal. In view of the current developments, it is expected that the state government will pay immediate attention to this matter.

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