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Kerala Home Birth Tragedy Ignites Acupuncture Safety Debate


The tragic incident in Trivandrum, involving the untimely demise of a mother and her newborn after childbirth, has cast a sombre shadow over the community. Shameera Bheevi, hailing from Palakkad, succumbed following a home delivery. 

The use of unscientific methods, specifically acupuncture, during the delivery procedure has been identified as the contributing factor leading to this heartbreaking double fatality.

It is indeed shocking to receive such news from a state renowned for its robust health systems and commendable achievements in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. 

The reaction of the local community underscores the understanding that, while individuals have the personal freedom to choose their birthing methods, prioritising safety is paramount. 

In this case, the unfortunate incident occurred due to the insistence of the husband, highlighting the critical importance of informed and safe decision-making in matters of childbirth.

Nayaz, the husband, has been apprehended on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in connection with the incident. This raises pertinent questions regarding the efficacy of alternative treatments, particularly in cases such as childbirth. 

The incredulity surrounding the situation prompts numerous inquiries within society, underscoring the need for a comprehensive examination of the circumstances and the broader implications of relying on unconventional methods in critical medical situations.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, an ancient healing practice that originated in China thousands of years ago, is renowned for its effectiveness in pain relief. 

Acupuncturists assert that the body contains over 360 pressure points, and they apply pressure to these points using metal needles. It is believed that the application of pressure on these points releases energy from the body.

The effectiveness of acupuncture has been a subject of scientific investigation, with some studies supporting its benefits while others do not. Proponents of acupuncture argue that placing metal needles on the painful area and passing a thin electric current through them can relieve pain. 

However, it’s worth noting that this method is considered more advanced and may not be universally available.

In India, there exists a system of study and courses for those practising acupuncture. However, some individuals engage in such treatments after completing certificate courses of very short duration, often lasting just over two months. 

Experts note that while government schools may offer approved courses, the efficacy of such brief training, especially in addressing conditions like headaches, lacks conclusive scientific evidence.

The incident occurred in Thiruvananthapuram, where a mother, having undergone three previous caesarean deliveries, attempted her fourth at home. 

It is crucial to clarify that the category of acupuncture providing courage in such cases is not the authentic acupuncture recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and accepted worldwide as a legitimate scientific practice.

The life-saving efforts underway in Kerala are entirely unrelated to what some individuals in India mistakenly label as acupuncture. It’s imperative to discern between genuine acupuncture, recognised globally by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as multi-needle therapy, and what amounts to a deceptive and spurious treatment.

At this facility, they purportedly practise needling at approximately 370 points on the body, a procedure claimed to be acupuncture. However, it is crucial to note that this practice lacks an approved licence and is considered by experts as a counterfeit form of treatment. 

It deviates significantly from genuine acupuncture, disregarding the guidelines established by the World Health Organisation (WHO).  

A woman who has undergone three caesarean sections would face significant challenges attempting a home birth. Even in a modern medical facility, only highly experienced doctors are typically entrusted with the responsibility of delivering a baby for a mother who has undergone three previous caesarean procedures.

Another incident unfolded in Tirur, Malappuram, where a woman gave birth at home, asserting that her husband, purportedly an acupuncturist and doctor, oversaw the process. Tragically, the child’s demise occurred on the third day, prompting posts on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Numerous diabetes patients are being put at risk due to a concerning condition set forth at the initiation of their treatment - the insistence on refraining from checking blood sugar levels. It is inconceivable for any rational individual to accept such a suggestion, considering the critical importance of monitoring blood sugar in diabetes management. 


Subsequently, it is argued that in European countries, home births are permitted only after thorough testing and assurance that there are no complications. While we have the freedom to choose our treatment, the responsibility lies in ensuring safety and opting for the right course of treatment.  


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