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Tony Blair 2005

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Medical Rituals

Malaysia, once again, famous for all the wrong reasons. However, it is an important part of humanity and has been in existence in all shapes and forms for centuries. There are no rules here, anything goes. It is like creating games for children where the only limitation is one's imagination. So the question is, why do reasonably educated individuals fall for such a scam?

Vulnerability and desperation. When the 'sane' world offers little explanation to a problem, alternative views become a suitable substitute. From health to financial matters, the solutions from alternative sources are sometimes infinite. It's amazing that people will believe almost anything, no matter how ridiculous it may seem. From bizzare rituals to downright ludicrous concoctions, a cure is somehow always around the corner.

The placebo effect do assist alternative solutions to florish. Sure, there will be someone who will feel better and swear by its effectiveness. Clinical trials are almost never performed but those flocking to them could almost result in a stampede.

I remember how at one time a family sweared that a 'doctor' did perform a special surgical techniques that could remove water from the body for congestive cardiac failure, which was sutureless. He came with surgical plasters on his body. The family claimed to have seen blood oozing out and the 'surgeon' plucking things from the body. On removal of the plaster, only a superficial scratch that masqueraded as a surgical scar. It took some convincing talk before the family admitted that it was just a scam. They paid a few thousand ringgit for that.

Now that the Ministry of Health is allowing traditional medical practices to be set up in a hospital, i wonder if this will lend legitimacy to dubious claims or drugs. What regulations are in place and is evidence-based care important for this branch? Or are we perfecting the art of shooting ourselves in the foot!


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