Menace Of Quackery In Nursing Profession by Yahaya Abdullahi PGDM,BNsc


NURSING PROFESSION is one of the oldest Professions known to mankind and acknowledges the complexities of the nature of man. The single dominant intellectual and practice essence of Nursing, acquired through comprehensive Nursing education is CARING. It is a learned humanistic and scientific discipline which is directed towards assisting people of different, cultural and social background by skillfully using caring act and process in order to help maintain healthy styles of living, of preventing illness state and regaining wellness by restorative caring modalities.

It is therefore pertinent to state that for the holistic need and nature of man to be met, the science of Nursing is not negotiable.

Nursing as a profession came into existence, rested, savoured and consolidated its position by developing its own language, rituals, ethics, arts and sciences from the physical needs of the patients, the principles and concepts of prevention, its own body of traditions, attitudes, culture and values which were mainly drawn from the army and religious orders. High discipline with stern reprimands formed the foundation of the profession and developed with it.


A profession is a disciplined group of individuals that created, adopted and adhered to ethical standards. The group possess special knowledge and skills in a widely recognized body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, recognized by the public (professional standards council, 2016) in which they apply the acquired knowledge and skills. Professionals are governed by codes of ethics, and commitment to competence, integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their expert domain and accountable to those they served and to society (Sylvia, Johnson & Cruess, 2004). Professionalism on the other side, can be seeing as the personal philosophy as relate to one’s own attitude as a professional. It entails the way an individual carry out his/her professional duty as transmit to its ethical principles.

According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 6th edition, A Nurse is a person whose job is to take care of the sick or injured people, usually in a Hospital.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defined a Nurse in the African sub-region (to which Nigeria belongs) as “a person who having received prescribed education and training, has acquired knowledge, skills and attitude in the promotion of health, the prevention of illness and the care of the sick. Thus, making him or her an integral member of a health team, capable of solving within the limit of his or her competence the health problems which arise in the community”

The International Council of Nursing (ICN, in 2015) defined a Nurse as a person who has completed a program of basic, generalized nursing education and is authorized by the appropriate regulatory authority (as in case in Nigeria, the NMCN) to practice nursing in his or her own country.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) defined a Nurse as a “person who has received authorized education, acquired specialized skills, and attitude and is Registered and licensed by the a regulatory body (in Nigeria, NMCN), to provides, promotes, preventive, restorative and rehabilitative care to individuals, families and the communities independently and in collaboration with other members of the health team” (NMCN, 2009).


Menace is defined as a person or thing that is likely to cause harm; a threat or danger.

The Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, 6th edition defined quackery as the methods or behavior of somebody who pretends to have medical knowledge; according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, defined quackery as the promotion of fraudulent or ignorant medical practices, Common elements of general quackery include questionable diagnoses using questionable diagnostic tests, as well as untested or refuted treatments, especially for serious diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDs.

Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch defines quackery “as the promotion of unsubstantiated methods that lack a scientifically plausible rationale” and more broadly “anything involving over promotion in the field of health.” This definition includes questionable ideas as well as questionable products and services, regardless of the sincerity of their promoters. Where the situation involves deliberate deception, it is often described as “health fraud” with the salient characteristics of aggressive promotion.

Quackery is the promotion of deceitful or an ill-informed medical practice.


A quack is a fraudulent or ignorant pretender to medical skill or a person who pretends, professionally or publicly to have knowledge or qualification he/she does not possess. For example, some patent medicine dealers performing surgical operations. Quacks received their training from unregistered and unregulated facilities for such training; their practices are not regulated as there is no agency recognized by law to do so. Quacks have no ethical codes and standards to guide their actions and activities. There is no standard to measure their performance and rate their quality of goods and services. A quack has no career progression and scheme of services hence they are ready to collect any amount from their employers.


•COST: There are some people who simply cannot afford conventional treatment, and seek out a cheaper alternative. Nonconventional practitioners can often dispensed treatment at a much lower cost. This is compounded by reduced access to healthcare facilities.
•FEAR OF SIDE EFFECTS: A great variety of pharmaceutical medications can have very distressing side effects, and many people fear surgery and its consequence, so they may opt to shy away from these mainstream treatments.
•IGNORANCE: Those who perpetuate quackery may do so to take advantage of ignorance about conventional medical treatments versus alternative treatments, or may themselves be ignorant regarding their own claims. Mainstream medicine has produced many remarkable advances, so people may tend to also believe groundless claims.
•DISTRUST OF CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE: Many people, for various reasons, have distrust of conventional medicine, or of the regulating organizations such as NAFDAC, or major drug corporations. For example the Pfizer drug test case in Kano that cause deformities and other related issues can result in disenfranchisement (discrimination) in conventional medical settings and resulting in distrust
•DESPERATION: People with serious or terminal disease, or who have been told by their practitioner that their condition is “untreatable”, may react by seeking out treatment, disregarding the lack of scientific proof for its effectiveness, or even the existence of evidence that the method is ineffective or even dangerous. Despair may be exacerbated by lack of palliative non-curative-end-of-life care.
•PRIDE: Occasionally, once people found that they have endorsed or defended a cure, or invested time and money in it, they may be reluctant or embarrassed to later admit its ineffectiveness and therefore recommend a treatment that does not work.
•FRAUD: For financial reward, some practitioners, fully aware of the ineffectiveness of their medicine, may intentionally produce fraudulent scientific studies and medical test results, thereby confusing any potential consumers as to the effectiveness of the medical fit.
•CONFIRMATION BIAS: This is also known and called “myside bias”, it’s the tendency to interpret, or prioritize information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.
•REGRESSION FALLACY: There is also this lack of understanding that some health conditions change with no treatment and attributing changes in ailments to a given therapy.


1)Quackery in Nursing profession is the bane of the numerous misconceptions about nursing and the Nurse in Nigeria and globally. Some of these misconceptions are:
a)The belief that nurses are not intelligent enough to study medicine.
b)That Nurses are incapable of independent thought and need to be given instructions by Medical doctors.
c)That a Nurse can be trained anywhere.
d)That the female ones flirt with male Medical doctors
e)That anybody (female) with white gown and cap is a Nurse.
2)It affects the image of the profession and the practitioners, as many wrongs perpetuated in a hospital setting by these quacks are most time blamed on Nurses.
3)Quackery in the Nursing profession in Nigeria, underrates the profession in the eyes of the people, since it is perceived that, without a formal education, one can become a Nurse.
4)Quackery in the Nursing profession is capable of deceasing the weight and value of the certificate issued by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria to qualified Nurses and Midwives in Nigeria.
5)Quackery in the Nursing profession is capable of affecting the growth and development of the profession, as quacks infiltrate its file and rank and pollute the demand for qualified Nursing personnel for quality care.
6)Quackery in the Nursing Profession decreases the quality of service delivery to the people, thereby increasing the level of complications resulting in higher health bills to the individual, the family, the community and the Government.


i)There should be access to an affordable and qualitative healthcare services across the country
ii)Regulatory agencies such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria (NMCN) should be adequately funded to play their regulatory and supervisory roles, particularly in the areas of inspection and monitoring of services provider centers.
iii)Citizens, particularly the qualified Nurses/Midwives must collaborate with relevant Authorities to expose quacks and their trainers.
iv)The Government at all levels (Local, State and Federal) through the National Orientation Agency should reactivate and invigorate the enlightenment of the citizens on the dangers of patronizing quacks. And those training them should be identified and promptly prosecuted.
v)The professional Association (National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, NANNM), particularly the private sector unit, must ensure they work closely with the NMCN by exposing quacks, their trainers and their employers to sanitize the profession.
vi)Appropriate legislation be put in place/strengthening to ensure culprits are adequately punished and their victims adequately compensated by the quacks.


Quackery in the Nursing profession is not only a danger to the profession, but carries a lot of health hazard on the citizens, the family, the community and the Government as outlined above and we strongly believed if all the steps suggested here above are taken by all concerned, the menace of quacks and quackery in the Nursing profession can be reduced to the barest minimum.


– Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 6th edition
– Resuscitation technique, a paper presented by Nrs. A.D.Yahaya at Edebo and NANNM FCT Council workshop, 2009.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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