Alternative Systems of Medicine in India (Part 2)

Until the 200os, AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) was only privately practiced, with little encouragement or regulation. This changed when the government, through the National Health Mission, made attempts to mainstream AYUSH. Separate allocations were made, teaching and certifying institutes were started. Over-the-counter Ayurvedic medications for simple ailments became popular in urban areas, so much so that, even instant noodles sold better with the ‘herbal’ tag.

However, AYUSH doctors are mostly practicing allopathic or western medicine and are being used by governments are vehicles of healthcare delivery to remote rural areas where allopathic doctors refuse to work. The government is also trying to promote Ayurveda surgery, a non-existent entity, by handing out degrees. It is also trying to integrate the two systems of medicine, for example, by sending house surgeons to AYUSH postings under compulsory rotating internship. There is also lot of encouragement given to manufacturers of Ayurvedic medications and herbal products.

This has created some undesirable consequences. Some Ayurveda brands have come out with medications for covid-19 with pseudo-scientific claims of 100% cure rates. AYUSH are systems of medicine, with their own strengths and nuances; trying to integrate them with allopathy will only undermine the practice of both as well as create confusion in the science behind them.

What is the reaction of allopathic practitioners in the country?

Author: Mahima Prasad

Doctor, dog enthusiast, UPSC aspirant

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