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Sansad TV: Committee Report- Ayush System- Way Forward

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Introduction:

Ayush systems of medicine include Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy. Ayush is an acronym for Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy. Ayurveda is the oldest system with a documented history of its practice for more than 5000 years whereas Homoeopathy is in practice in India for around 100 years. These systems are being practiced in the country with diverse preferences of people and infrastructural facilities. The AYUSH market currently stands at a whopping 10 billion US dollars and is projected to see an impressive 50% increase over the course of the next five years.

Challenges faced:

  • Non-integration into mainstream medicine: Our efforts to mainstream AYUSH medicinehas been to regard that the major problem lies in the fact that there is a very less proportion of AYUSH in the present mix.
  • The isolationist approachgoes against the cherished ideal of modern medicine to embrace concepts that are backed by evidence. In the case of traditional medicine, an isolationist attitude could deter scientific scrutiny and block some potential value addition.
  • Quality standards of Medicines:Scientific validation of AYUSH has not progressed in spite of dedicated expenditure in past.
  • Lack of human resources: Practitioners are moving away from traditional system for better opportunities
  • The existing infrastructure remains under-utilized.
  • The 2013 Shailaja Chandra reporton the status of Indian medicine and folk healing, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, noted several instances in States where National Rural Health Mission-recruited AYUSH physicians were the sole care providers in PHCs and called for the appropriate skilling of this cadre to meet the demand for acute and emergency care at the primary level.

Contemporary relevance:

  • Non-Communicable Diseases can become bigger problem than being malnourished
  • NCDs threaten progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a target of reducing premature deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030.
  • Unlike modern medicine, AYUSH follows a more holistic approach, with the objective of promoting overall well-being instead of focussing on curing illness alone.
  • Such an approach assumes greater significance in the case of non-communicable diseaseswhich are difficult to treat once they have developed into chronic conditions.
  • Internationally, greater scientific evidence is becoming available regarding the health impact of alternative systems of medicine, especially Yoga.
  • It has been proved beyond doubt that timely  interventions  in  pre-diabetic  and  pre-hypertensive  conditions  with alternative  medicines  can  result  in  regression of diseases and restoration of health.
  • Yoga is effective not only in prevention and control but also in the treatment of diseases. The whole world today is adopting Yoga for a healthier lifestyle.

Way forward

  • It is important to gather scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of AYUSH medicines and practices.
  • Work towards capacity building and developing a critical mass of competent professionals in the AYUSH sector through quality education and training at national and international levels.
  • True integration of traditional and modern systems is the need of the hour. This would require a concerted strategy for facilitating meaningful cross-learning and collaboration between the modern and traditional systems on equal terms.
  • There is a need to ensure substantial groundwork with respect to the prerequisites of an effective integration.
  • Building a strong traditional medicine evidence corpus.
  • Standardizing and regulating AYUSH practices and qualifications.
  • Delineating the relative strengths, weaknesses, and role of each system in an integrated framework.
  • Negotiating the philosophical and conceptual divergences between systems.
  • Accordingly, a medium- and long-term plan for seamless integration should be developed expeditiously in view of the massive drive for achieving universal health care already underway in the country and considering the vast potential of AYUSH to contribute to this cause.