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Banned in India, traditional doctors set up shops in UAE

DUBAI — 06 May 2006:The cure may well turn out to be worse than the ailment. Banned in India, traditional medicine practitioners have now set up shops in the UAE and are posing serious health risks to people in the country.

Operating illegally, such practitioners are luring ‘believers’ and putting their health at high risk. Though some practitioners have licences, they are still practising illegally in the UAE, say health officials.

Sources point out that a large number of traditional medicine practitioners have moved to the UAE following a recent ban imposed by the Kerala government on the practice of old traditional medicine.

Khaleej Times investigations reveal that most such practitioners offering alternative medicine or ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) in different emirates, do have a licence from the local municipality but not from the federal Ministry of Health (MoH).

Dr Sassan Behjat, Coordinator National Centre for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, MoH said: “The licences obtained by these practitioners are from the municipality (trade licences), and not from the MoH. To offer consultancy, one must have a licence from MoH and not the municipality,” he explained.

“Even to acquire a licence for practising ayurvedic medicine, a very tough MoH exam — held four times a year — has to be cleared. This is really tough exam because the success rate of candidates is only 10 per cent,” he added.

“I received a leaflet from a friend about a traditional doctor from Kerala so I went to consult him for my back pain. I went there because I am aware that ayurveda treatment is good for back pain. When I consulted the alternative medical practitioner, he promised he would visit me in my apartment to give a massage and other treatment. But later, when I started the treatment, my backache aggravated instead of diminishing,” said Suresh.

Sandeep, who had the same experience, said: “I have had a problem in my knee for a long time. I was being treated by an ayurvedic doctor back home. When my problem re-occurred, I contacted a traditional doctor in Ajman who promised to visit my apartment twice a week. But the treatment was useless as I had to finally consult an authorised medical practitioner.”

Sandeep later learnt that the traditional doctor had no proper qualifications in alternative medicine.

When Khaleej Times contacted an ayurvedic doctor in Ajman, he said on condition of anonymity: "Patients have complained about such illegal practitioners. A number of patients have been cheated by these medicos and they later come to me for help.” He also reiterated that nobody is allowed to practise in the UAE as a doctor in alternative medicine without a proper licence and a strict check should be made to detect and penalise those who violate the law.


Indian stars set to rock capital today

ABU DHABI — 06 May: The New Medical Centre, in association with the Abu Dhabi Cricket Club, will host a musical extravaganza, the 'NMC EurAsia Maa Salama Wa Ela Alekka Nite' at the Zayed Cricket Stadium here today, beginning 8.30pm.

The NMC Managing Director, B.R. Shetty, said NMC is sponsoring the event to commemorate the 30th year of its presence in the UAE and to mark the successful completion of the BSNL-EurASia Cup 2006.

"The event will feature some well-known names in Indian music: Bhangra sensation Daler Mehndi, Alisha Chinoi, Bappi Lahri, Shibani Kashyap and Apache Indian, who will lead a 22-strong troupe. The popular artistes will provide the punch to sway the crowds. We will have state-of-the-art sound and light arrangements and the audience can look forward to a fun-filled evening of total entertainment," he added.

The purpose behind organising this event, said Shetty, is to reach out to sports enthusiasts with an evening that is entertaining and memorable. The show will be recorded for repeat-telecasts by Sahara One Television, he said.

Cricket teams from India, Pakistan and the UAE will be present at the gala dinner following the concert and cricket bats of the winning team and the runner-up, will be auctioned, the proceeds going to the Special Need Care Centre, Abu Dhabi, that takes care of mentally challenged children. The profits of the event will go to the ADCC for the development of local cricket and to support the Zayed Academy Junior Programme, Shetty added.


Minister promises govt help to solve problems of NRIs

ABU DHABI - 06 May: The perennial grievances of the Indian diaspora in the Gulf, reduction of air fares, streamlining of recruitment agents and busting of fake visa rackets, pension fund for Gulf NRIs etc, once again dominated the wish-list during an interactive session with the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi, at the Indian embassy on Thursday evening.

“None of these issues are new. I know you have been articulating them for quite a long time. It is a fact that solutions have not met the expectations of the Indian community,” admitted the minister while promising more assistance from the government to address these issues.

Ravi was at the embassy to inaugurate the computerisation of consular services at the mission. The embassy has been computerised in view of the growing volume of consular work and to increase the efficiency and speed with which it can be handled.

The minister also distributed the Overseas Indian Citizenship cards to 16 Non-resident Indians in the presence of Chandra Mohan Bhandari, Indian ambassador to the UAE.

Responding to various community concerns expressed by members and representatives of different NRI associations, Ravi said: “The pension scheme for NRIs is very much in my mind and I have already submitted a report to the PM. The issue will soon be discussed in detail.”

“If I succeed in convincing him that every Non-resident Indian generates foreign exchange and should be given equal incentives and benefits like any employer who generates employment in the country, I can get a good amount for the fund,” he added.

Calling for close coordination between the community associations and the embassy in solving the problems faced by Indians in the UAE, the minister also affirmed the need to strengthen the legal help offered by the mission to those in need. “I am aware that the embassy is availing of all possible legal help for our people. But we need to institutionalise it.” Touching upon the increasing mental stress and suicidal tendencies among expatriate Indians, Ravi suggested it would be a good idea to have a doctors cell at the Indian mission to deal with such cases.


Customs men outwit the Dubai airport smugglers

Dubai: 06 May: Customs officials are going headto-head with illegal travellers who try their best to fool staff to gain entry to the UAE.

Figures released this week by Dubai Customs indicate that tricksters accounted for the second-largest number of arrests made in 2005. Drug smugglers top the list.

Of the 3,935 arrests made in 2005 – a record number for Dubai Airport – 140 were for those who tried to trick customs staff into stamping fake passports or smuggle banned items.Those caught were, in most cases, deported and banned from reentering the country.

Mohammed Saeed Al Mansoori, Director of the General Department for Airport and Free Zone Customs, said airport staff were specially trained to deal with the problem. “We catch many people performing this kind of thing, where they can make people unaware of what is going on, in order to take advantage of a situation,”Al Mansoori added.

“Once we spot this we usually put them straight back on a flight to their original country.” Al Mansoori ascribed the rise in arrests to the growth in tourism and the number of new airlines flying to the airport. Those arrested have been analysed in order to categorise them – both by the type of offence and their country of origin.Transgressors from Iran top the list, with Pakistan running a close second, India third, the UAE 12th and the United Kingdom 13th.

Al Mansoori said the new information would help officials to collar travellers who flout the law more effectively – which in turn would result in more effective protection for the community of Dubai.“I want the public to know we are doing a good job but I don’t want the criminals to know how we do it,” he said.

Although he did not divulge the specifics of customs procedures he said that officers had been trained to monitor people’s body language. He added that customs had also upgraded their X-ray facilities last month.

The methods that customs officers use seem to be working. In one case, a member of a Euro pean airline crew sewed 2kg of heroin into the lapels of his flight uniform. Al Mansoori did not name the airline involved, but said he was not surprised by the incident and it showed that the airport customs had to check everyone.

“We are never shocked.We are always aware of small and big things that could happen, we just have to act,” he said.

“Because of my job, I look at all aspects, passengers and crew. When I went through the airport to London I was checked and followed because I had no luggage. It is things like this that staff are trained to spot.” Al Mansoori said people have even been caught with heroin in their stomachs and some use make-up containers or ornaments to conceal their stash.

“People always try to smuggle things in different ways, so we have to be alert and our staff are highly trained in body language and the latest ways smuggling drugs,” he added.



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