Bayu Marhaenjati & Dessy Sagita
The Health Ministry and Indonesian Doctors Association are being urged to better supervise and regulate health clinics that guarantee patients a full recovery — claims that aren’t supported by valid data or research.
“Medical science forbids promises about recovery because only God can cure. We, as doctors and traditional healers, are only the medium,” Dr. Adi Pramafitri, chairman of Indonesian Doctors Caucus, told Beritasatu.com on Sunday.
Adi said he feared that health clinics such as Tong Fang, which make such guarantees, would mislead patients.
“The advertisements or testimonies made for promotional purposes should not exaggerate. They have to be based on valid data and research because it could cause the people to think illogically and irrationally,” he said.
Adi said several patients at Tong Fang clinic were willing to pay large sums based on the clinic’s guarantees.
“Some patients at Tong Fang clinic were willing to pay dearly, although there was no guarantee of their recovery. The expenses could’ve been much lower at the hospital,” he said.
Adi added that while doctors were prohibited from making ads, traditional healers were under no such restriction. “Doctors aren’t allowed to make advertisements but traditional medicine [healers] place many ads,” he said. “That’s not fair.”
The doctor said there were hundreds of health clinics nationwide that made similar claims without any data to support them.
“There are hundreds of these kind of clinics across Indonesia. … They guarantee recovery for cataracts without surgery. They place billboards using promotional language, and that’s been going on for a long time. They are usually Indian and Chinese health clinics and they usually place ads on the radio or in newspapers. There aren’t very many on television because it’s expensive,” he said.
Adi said he had filed protests to the Health Ministry about these clinics, but had yet to get a positive response.
“There are still no concrete actions until now. They said they’ve issued warnings but they [the clinics] still exist,” he said.
An unnamed source from Tong Fang was quoted by Okezone.com as saying that the clinic did not believe it had done anything wrong and that it enjoyed a high level of trust among its patients. There has been no official response from the clinic.
Adi said traditional medicines and complementary medicine — combining conventional and traditional medical practices — were both allowed by law, but must be supported by data and research.
“Patients are allowed to consume herbal medicines based on a doctor’s permission,” he said. “But then again, they have to be supported by valid research and data.”