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It�s a cultural syndrome, say doctors

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Sept 29 � Doctors have discounted claims and apprehensions about the reported outbreak of a disease that affects males and females in peculiar ways. Senior doctors in Gauhati Medical College as well as those working in the rural interiors have rubbished reports which indicate that some males have seen their genital organs retract into their abdomen; while females have experienced the same with their breasts.

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence that such things have happened," said Dr MM Deka, Principal of Gauhati Medical College. He said that it could be traced to a cultural syndrome called Koro that is prevalent in Malay and Chinese population of Southeast Asia.

In countries like Malaysia, there is a belief that excessive sexual activity can lead to such conditions. But that cannot be called a disease, because no symptoms actually exist. "At best it is a cultural disease," Dr Deka remarked.

The senior doctor said that the syndrome has been reported mostly from the bordering areas of Assam, and could have spread via migration involving people and culture. "It is not a belief common to Assam, only once before was it reported in 1981-82", he noted.

Referring to the people who have reportedly fallen victims he said that, in almost all the cases they were from seriously disadvantaged background with no access to education. "Lack of awareness coupled to high stress levels made such people vulnerable to such beliefs," he observed.

Doctors, who have started receiving distress calls from people, believe that the media should refrain from sensationalism in this regard and play a responsible role.

Media persons and NGOs can play a positive role in sending a message of assurance to the masses, they add.

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It�s a cultural syndrome, say doctors

GUWAHATI, Sept 29 � Doctors have discounted claims and apprehensions about the reported outbreak of a disease that affects males and females in peculiar ways. Senior doctors in Gauhati Medical College as well as those working in the rural interiors have rubbished reports which indicate that some males have seen their genital organs retract into their abdomen; while females have experienced the same with their breasts.

"There is absolutely no scientific evidence that such things have happened," said Dr MM Deka, Principal of Gauhati Medical College. He said that it could be traced to a cultural syndrome called Koro that is prevalent in Malay and Chinese population of Southeast Asia.

In countries like Malaysia, there is a belief that excessive sexual activity can lead to such conditions. But that cannot be called a disease, because no symptoms actually exist. "At best it is a cultural disease," Dr Deka remarked.

The senior doctor said that the syndrome has been reported mostly from the bordering areas of Assam, and could have spread via migration involving people and culture. "It is not a belief common to Assam, only once before was it reported in 1981-82", he noted.

Referring to the people who have reportedly fallen victims he said that, in almost all the cases they were from seriously disadvantaged background with no access to education. "Lack of awareness coupled to high stress levels made such people vulnerable to such beliefs," he observed.

Doctors, who have started receiving distress calls from people, believe that the media should refrain from sensationalism in this regard and play a responsible role.

Media persons and NGOs can play a positive role in sending a message of assurance to the masses, they add.

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