Every other day, I notice costly services of a “Licensed psychologists”, “psychiatrists”, “neurologists” and other professionals at a commercial, personally owned clinic or online in/from Pakistan. However, I have not found any legislation for licensing a psychologist in Pakistan! Furthermore, many psychology graduates and undergraduates not only call themselves psychologists but also have a powerful influence on the naive and docile population of Pakistan through a “Dr” against their name. Another thing they do to make a civil impression is the creation of personal websites. To an informed person, such websites constitute the characteristics of a predatory nature or potentially fake credibility. Such psychologists extensively use social media to broadcast their services. Apart form the use of social media, professionals predominantly use money, time and cultural/religious identification with the population to exert their authoritative influence in their field of expertise.

Their reputation is enforced by their naïve subordinates and helpers with the help of their titles such as “Dr Sahiba”, “Barra doctor!”, “Barra naam”, “Professor”, etc. Their credibility is also emphasised through the sayings such as “punctual for prayers”, “separate seating area for men and women”, and through the waiting lines and their waiting times, “you get time after 6 months!”, “you have to wait for 4 hours!”. Many times, the cognizant one knows that, this so and so professional, has no PhD, no psychometric tests, no culturally adapted psychometric testing services, no diagnostic equipment, and any know-how of assessment and evaluation. Since the huge titles, cultural setup, waiting times, waiting lines, hospital/clinic physical settings, and placebo effect of medications are the mode of judging the credibility of Pakistani professionals, the public is fooled into an expensive healthcare system in exchange for substandard diagnostic services and quality care. Yet, they are not aware of the deals between the doctors and the pharmaceutical companies. Worst of all poverty limits the number of healthcare choices they can have!

Our social and public concern is not the availability of services, but the quality of services, the super fluent use of marketing and cultural narratives which are irrelevant to healthcare, the cost of the services, and the use of magnanimous titles that the service providers do not merit, and which do not commensurate with their qualifications, and experience. To address such concerns, the public health literacy campaigns needs to be urgently initiated on a massive scale. The public should know the drawbacks of overmedication, over the counter use of medication, and frequent use of medication for minor ailments. Often the doctors seem unacquainted with integral aspects of health psychology such as the quality of doctor-communication that improve adherence to health behaviours and treatment regimens. Often doctors do not have time to consider a patient’s history unless the patient is referred for the diagnosis of mental disorders. The consensus of various professionals about a particular treatment regimen focusing on a holistic biopsychosocial approach is for the ruling elite only! The common person is deprived of a holistic view of his health that the domain of health psychology takes seriously. General physicians usually ask about the most persistent symptom and hurriedly write down a prescription without conducting an initial exam followed up with detailed examinations such as blood and urine examination and without considering the patient’s medical history or complications resulting due to possible interactions with patient’s current medication. Some doctors even forbid their clients from viewing the medicine leaflet, specifically the side effects! 

The public should be made aware of different qualifications in Pakistan and the extent of education and training those qualifications entail. They must be aware of the requirements of a licensed practitioner in the developed world. The public should be provided written material and counselling about how to evaluate the credibility of various professionals in Pakistan. The common person should be able to understand how the politics at government hospitals prevents doctors from using advanced equipment for patient welfare. The public should know that the treatment for only the most common diseases in Pakistan is available. Our country lacks advanced tests, equipment, and health information systems (i.e., holistic approach: triangulation of data) to diagnose allergies, rare diseases, and lifelong complicated chronic conditions. The common person should be not be enchanted by superficial labels but be able to differentiate between labels and the actual level of a professional’s competence. Healthcare registration system must be made mandatory for all healthcare professionals and the evaluation criteria for healthcare registration should be very tough (including qualification points, internship points, experience points, professional’s personality points, communication skills points, social attitude points, ability to promote health education points, etc.).

For those who say ignorance is bliss: A democracy representing the ignorant masses is detrimental to the quality of healthcare service delivery and integrity of the healthcare profession.