Saturday, February 18, 2012

Health Ministry Warned Against Treatments Using Leeches

Article: Daily Express
The Health Ministry recently advised the public to stay away from traditional healing treatments using leeches as it may cause bacterial infection. Director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry had not approved such treatment centres as the effectiveness was not proven.

"The ministry strictly does not allow this treatment method as there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment works," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Dr Hasan said stern action will be taken against traditional healing practitioners who continue to risk the public's health. He was responding to claims of a skin specialist at An-Nur Hospital, Dr Saadiah Sulaiman, that the leech treatment exposed the public to a dry cough.

She claimed that to date, two patients had sought follow up treatments for the illness at the hospital after trying out the leech treatment. Dr Hasan added that the perception of many that leeches suck dirty blood was also wrong as there was no such thing as dirty blood in medical terms.

"Infectious disease may spread through blood when the same leech is used on another patient."

Dr Hasan said the treatment process could transmit dangerous diseases related to blood flow from one individual to another besides slowing the blood clot process.

"This may lead to constant bleeding with an open wound giving space for more serious problems."

Bad News For Leech Farmers?

A couple of years or so ago, leech farming was quite a topic in town as some enterprising individuals vigorously promote leech therapy and hence the high demand for leeches. There were talks about contract farming and it all seems very lucrative. It has faded a bit now but I believe there are still people doing this business on a smaller scale. Demand is still there from traditional healing practitioners although we have no figures to show.

The warning from Health Ministry is a blow to the trade. Stern action is to be taken against those found to violate the directive. But to be fair to the traditional practitioners, even the Ministry did not clearly explained what it stated "there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment works".

Is it fair to prevent people from practicing the alternative treatment on grounds that there is no scientific evidence to prove the treatment? Have the ministry proved that it was the leech treatment that caused the dry cough? It could be due to un-controlled treatment procedure rather than the practice itself.

People in many countries still use leech therapy in a controlled way, such as making sure a leech is used only once in a treatment to avoid infectious disease, health checks of patients prior to leech treatment, etc.

Going back to traditional and natural way of healing is good considering today's society's dependence on drugs. It is your health, be more alert and know the risk you are taking.

Is back-to-nature good in this context?


Aki said...

betul ba bos??

de engineur said...

@Aki. Ya, boleh refer sana New Strait Times regarding Warning against treatments using leeches

Kau ada piara lintah kah, Aki?