The High Court (HC) has ruled that it is illegal for the Ministry of Health to use the title 'doctor' before the names of homeopathy, unani and ayurvedic officials working in various positions in the Alternative Medical Care operational plan.
None but an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) or BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) graduate is allowed to use the title according to the rules of the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC), the court says.
Dismissing the rule of a writ in this regard, the full verdict of an HC bench was published on the website of the Supreme Court on Saturday.
In its judgment, the HC says the professionals of alternative medical systems can use the following titles: 1) Integrated Physician 2) Complementary Physician 3) Integrated Medicine Practitioner and 4) Complementary Medicine Practitioner before their name.
Referring to the Constitution where freedom of thought and conscience is mentioned as one of the fundamental rights of every citizen, the HC said, "It is the fundamental right of an individual to choose any of the traditional, western or alternative medical services."
The court also said receiving medical treatment is one of the fundamental rights of a citizen as per Article-32 of the Constitution.
"Alternative medicine is a 5,000-year-old system. Thus, proper studying and training of these age-old treatment methods will help to develop the overall medical system of the masses. Therefore, one of the responsibilities of the government is to prepare the necessary legal framework for becoming an alternative or conventional doctor."
The HC suggested the creation of a separate ministry, similar to the Ministry of Ayush in India, if necessary. The court also suggested setting standards for the recognition and development of education, training, service standards related to alternative medicine and the recognition of degrees awarded by specialised universities, colleges and other educational institutions related to alternative medicine.
Lawyers Rashna Imam, Khandaker Nilima Yasmin and Md Mojibar Rahman were present in the court on behalf of the writ petition, while Tanjib Ul Alam, Sakibuzzaman, Kazi Irshadul Alam and Imran Anwar represented the BMDC.
Advocate Tapas Kumar Biswas was on the other side.
Deputy Attorney General Wais Al Haruni and Ashek Momin and Assistant Attorney Generals Elin Emon Saha, Saira Firoz and Mahfuzur Rahman Likhan were present at the hearing on behalf of the state.