Dhivehi beys: safety and regulations?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dhivehi beys, the field of medical practice that has been practiced in Maldives as a traditional form of healing, has been acclaimed by many of its practitioners and critics of modern medicine as a "purist" form of medical therapy. We are sure that there would be many people who would support this argument. We are equally sure that there would be people who would question the legitimacy and effectiveness of current "Dhivehi beys verikan".

The roots of Dhivehi beys are lost to history. However the similarities it shares with homeopathic, ayurvedic and herbal therapy suggests that it is a medical practice derived from a combination of these fields of medicine. Our Dhivehi beys practitioners, especially the ones practicing in Male' seem to have also borrowed practices from modern western medicine as well.

As commented by a visitor, modern medicine has heavily borrowed and derived their drugs and medicaments from early herbal and homeopathic practitioners. They have arguably invested heavily into studying the agents and substances for their properties, characters and effect on the living beings to understand the safety and efficacy of its use in clinical settings. This is perhaps the areas where current Dhivehi beys products and medicaments lag in comparison.

Are "Dhivehi beys verin" doctors? Some of them seem to like the title rather much. One practitioner who has a growing business in Male' at his MM clinic likes to be referred to as doctor. He is to our knowledge not registered in Maldives as a doctor. The Maldives Medical Council answered our call and reported that he was not a doctor. Maldives Medical Association office was closed and their opinion was not available on this issue. The use of this title is of concern as many people might be misled by the title itself. While we do note that neither the clinic nor the prescriptions claim the title "Dr" the fact that the Title is used un-corrected by the clinic staff and patients is a serious concern.

(Other people apparently use the title too without having the necessary qualifications: Dental Hygienists in IGMH and in private practice use the title Doctor in public and therefore cause confusion as being equivalent to much higher trained dental surgeons).

The concoctions that are available from MM clinic are famous as being locally produced and "tested". One "veymui sharbat" is claimed to possess healing for almost all illnesses! None of the clinics products have any side effects; claims the "doctor" according to his patients. This is because they are from natural products. His claim: natural products don't have side effects.

There have been some allegations of misuse of modern pharmaceutical agents in medicaments produced by traditional practitioners. One prominent  internal medicine physician from IGMH, who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, alleges that there is concern among his colleagues that a large number of traditional concoctions contain crushed tablets of modern drugs. He specifically mentioned steroids and morphine as being used. He said that he makes these allegation based on observations he has made which included some renal patients showing signs of prolonged steroid use (Cushingoid features) and others showing opiate overdose signs.

These are very serious allegations. It is our wish that authorities look into these allegations as soon as possible.

There are some other very disturbing allegations as well. The doctor quoted his friends in Obstetric practice as having told him about a traditional practitioner in Villingili who carried out per vaginal examination of female patients either by himself or "using the husbands hand" to look for signs of pregnancy or illness! We are unable to verify these claims and therefore have not used the name of the practitioner; we would encourage patients and doctors with information to come forward and confirm the story to our readers, if they are indeed genuine. It is our understanding and belief that the said practitioner has no training in carrying out these delicate examinations and strongly condemn such practices if indeed they are happening.

We have been able to confirm that the traditional practitioner in Villingili is consulted by many young couples struggling to start a family. Some of the patients we spoke to described some treatments that were offered. These included use of herbal and home-made pastes to apply on the genitals, use of different sexual positions and use of disposable syringes to "inject" partners semen into the vagina for "artificial insemination". These techniques have so far, as described by the 2 young couples we spoke to, been unsuccessful in their cases.

We tried to contact Dr Ahmed Razee, who is apparently the chairperson of the "Dhivehi Beys veringe Jamiyyaa" regarding these practices. Unfortunately we have not been able to talk to him to get his reaction or expert opinion. We wonder why HE is the charperson anyway?

We believe that Dhivehi beys has a role to play in our medical system. We do not doubt that it has helped many patients find cures and alleviated of suffering, even in cases where modern medicine has failed to find cures. None the less, we would like to see this branch of medical practice to be more refined. We would like to see the the safety of the "medicaments" and concoctions established through proper scientific studies (and not just by anecdotal evidence).

We cannot afford to be duped by a wayward, unregulated and unsafe traditional medical practices. It is our wish that authorities look into the serious allegations that have been made and make an attempt to regulate this branch of medicine that so many Maldivian are turning to.


Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that said MM clinic was previoulsy called DR.MM instead of MMM clinic and the ministry intervened to change it due to public complaints and he has permission to prescribe some allopathic drugs but not steroids. Am unable to confirm this.

Its highly unlikely that local preperations are having morphine as decribed in the artcile becasue morphine is hard to get and specially a local practioner having an uninterruped supply of oral morphine is highly unlikely. Cause anyone who could sneak it in can make more profit in the drug market. Though likely he may be using the raw from of opium which is a rampant practice.

Thank you MMW for bringing out an entirely different facet of Maldives medicine


Anonymous said...

"Dhivehi beys, the field of medical practice..."


It is not medical in any way.

Anonymous said...

You could rather say it is not evidence based medicne lol


jaa said...

Extremely important issue indeed. It is sad that many people, especially the elder, seem to discount and avoid modern medicine in favour of (dodgy) dhivehi-beys. :( Maybe we need more awareness on evidence-based medicine and practices eh

Anonymous said...

Evidence based medicine is not what is practiced in IGMH. What ever they think is the best they do . Not based on the best practice and evidence. Lethargic doctors most of them are.

Anonymous said...

Saabas last anony...whats wrong with u.u dont want dhivehi bes..nor modern bes..y dont u create ur own line of "alien bes"..LOL

Anonymous said...

Scientology is the answer for everything.

Ameer said...

well for the person who wrote this article should do some more research on the subject. And MMM MEDI CLINIC was never called DR. MM ... and Dr. Mawa Mohamed Manik practices his medicine with approval of the health ministry.Do pay him a visit and find out for your self. And as far as i know "Veymui Sarbath" never claimed possess healing for almost all illnesses! read the label. and all products sold are approved by drug control board of Maldives as far as my knowledge. Also would like to say there has been cases of people who make imitated products and beys. And i would like to say there are some remedies that need to be saved and kept alit.

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Dear Author maldivesmedicalwatch.blogspot.com !
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