KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — A gynaecologist brilliantly countered an alternative medicine practitioner during a debate with another physician on the toxicity of conventional versus traditional medicine.
Dr Lee Say Fatt, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Subang Jaya Medical Centre (SJMC), pointed out that the content, side effects, and required dosage of conventional drugs was known, unlike traditional medicine.
Dr Lee — when commenting on the debate between nephrologist Dr Rafidah Abdullah and alternative medicine practitioner Dr Amir Farid Isahak at radio station BFM’s Health & Living 2019 conference here last Saturday — also said many women who took Chinese herbs after giving birth came back to the hospital with bleeding problems.
“I ask the husband, ‘Do you drive?’ ‘Yes.’ Eh I’m selling you a tin of black engine oil, proven to improve engine efficiency, clean your engine, horse power up, save petrol, 50 bucks, secret formula, everybody buying from me, fantastic for your car. You want?’ He says ‘no’. What can go wrong? ‘Eh my engine can be damaged’.
“’But you can change your engine for 5,000 dollars, put turbo, better than the old engine’. Yet they refuse. Then I turn around — ‘And you ask your wife to drink the black concoction and you don’t know what is inside?’ So what’s the difference? There’s no difference,” Dr Lee, who was among the audience, said during the debate.
Dr Rafidah, head of department of medicine at Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Hospital, said many Malaysians with kidney problems mistakenly believed that modern drugs harmed their kidneys.
“When other people see my patients and tell them, ‘don’t take medicine’, that’s why they come in the middle of the night for dialysis. Unfortunately, it’s difficult sometimes to save their lives,” said Dr Rafidah during her debate with Dr Amir.
“It’s unregulated medicine, things you take without telling us, those are the things that harm the kidney. If you see your doctor properly, it will be safe.”
Dr Amir rebutted her by saying that prescription drugs were the third leading cause of death in the United States and Europe in 2016, citing a 2016 article written by Danish physician Peter C. Gøtzsche on The BMJ.
“This is not fake news, this is a peer-reviewed medical journal,” said Dr Amir.
“Doctor — you say do no harm, but you kill your patients!”
Gøtzsche wrote that psychiatric drugs alone were also the third major killer, mostly because antidepressants caused elderly people to die from falls. He claimed that non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) — pain relief medicines — posed a “huge” number of fatalities, mostly by causing bleeding stomach ulcers and heart attacks, and said most of the victims could have done well without drugs.
Dr Rafidah said in response to Dr Amir that one can discuss the risks and benefits of a particular drug with their doctor.
Dr Amir said he only used prescription drugs as a last resort after using “safer methods”.
“From being a gynae, I have to be a pseudo cardiologist, pseudo nephrologist. Patients come to me because they’re tired of gobbling 10, eight drugs every day. I have a patient with diabetes who was on six drugs, including insulin injections.”
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy Azrul Mohd Khalib, who was among the audience, said most alternative medicines were based on pseudo science, pointing out that Dr Amir himself admitted that he was a “pseudo cardiologist” and “pseudo nephrologist”.
“Dr Rafidah has presented her arguments based on data and evidence conducted through research and studies. Your arguments, unfortunately, are based on disparaging modern medicine, bringing up ADR (adverse drug reactions), but you have not presented at all studies and benefits and evidence that traditional medicine is able to make a case for.
“Traditional medicine depends on disparaging modern medicine as opposed to standing on your own merits,” said Azrul.
Dr Amir replied: “I’ve presented proper studies, published in peer-reviewed journals. I don’t know what else you want. No comment.”
The moderator then declared Dr Rafidah to be the winner of the debate, as the majority of the audience at 86 percent voted in an online poll that they would go to the doctor first if they fell sick, compared to 14 percent who chose alternative health practitioners.