The ministry of health has warned of health risks from unregulated Hijama therapy, urging practitioners of the complementary therapy to register with the government.
Hijama, or wet cupping has become a popular practice in the Maldives in recent years. It involves cutting the skin and drawing blood with suction cups.
The health ministry, noting the prevalence of the practice, warned it may lead to the spread of diseases unless proper procedures are followed.
“If attention is not given to cleanliness and sterilization of the equipment used, it is highly likely that those receiving the treatment could contract other diseases. There is a risk that the cupped area could emit pus, or lead to the transmission of harmful diseases like AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C,” a statement by the ministry read.
Practitioners must now register as a health facility with the government, the ministry said.
Hijamists reportedly charge between MVR1000 (US65) and MVR1500 (US$100) per session. Most of them work from home.
Hijama has been promoted as a practice recommended by Prophet Muhammad.
A Facebook page called “Spiritual Healers of Maldives” uses the Prophet’s hadith or sayings to promote the practice. In response to the health ministry’s warning, the group on Sunday said Hijama regulation must come with training courses and a special license for practitioners.
“The correct view, is to believe that Hijama (Cupping) is a cure for every disease, but it is not the ONLY cure for all the diseases,” the group said in a Facebook Post on April 28.
In a January article titled “Hijama – a cure of many diseases,” online newspaper Vaguthu claimed that science had demonstrated the benefits of the treatment over a century ago.
Cupping cures blood diseases like Anaemia and Haemaphilia, Rheumatic Diseases, fertiliry, skin diseases, high blood pressure, migraine, bronchial congestion and varicose veins, as well as mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, the article said.
“In light of the revelations in Islam, cupping is best practiced during the daytime.”
Another article written by online newspaper Avas some seven months ago, shared a story of a lady who was reportedly able to get pregnant after undergoing hijama therapy.
Just last month, the Maldives National University’s Faculty of Islamic Studies held an open lecture session titled “Hijama: From a religious and medical perspective.”
According to FIS website, Faculty lecturer Mohamed Sinan and Dr. Ibrahim Saeed spoke in the lecture which received widespread support from students and the general public.