Allopaths oppose combining modern and AYUSH systemsSeptember 5, 2020
New Education Policy (NEP), approved by the central government recently, proposes a complete overhaul of the country’s education system. But a clause in the education policy has attracted the ire of the allopathic medical practitioners in the country who feel that it will cause great damage to the healthcare sector in India.
The New Education Policy states: “Healthcare education needs to be re-envisioned so that the duration, structure, and design of the educational programmes need to match the role requirements that graduates will play. Students will be assessed at regular intervals on well-defined parameters primarily required for working in primary care and in secondary hospitals. Given that people exercise pluralistic choices in healthcare, our healthcare education system must be integrative meaning thereby that all students of allopathic medical education must have a basic understanding of ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha, and homeopathy (AYUSH), and vice versa. There shall also be a much greater emphasis on preventive healthcare and community medicine in all forms of healthcare education.”
No ‘hybrid-doctors’: IMA
The allopathic doctors under the banner of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had raised their strong objections against the clause when the draft notification was published. They are concerned that it would affect the quality of healthcare provided in the country. “It’s not just an issue of the profession. If implemented, after 10 years, there won’t be doctors for both modern medicine and AYUSH systems. The same doctor will practice ayurveda, homeopathy, siddha and modern medicine and this will affect the quality of care. We can’t produce hybrid doctors,” said Dr RV Asokan, Secretary-General, IMA.
Allopathic doctors feel that the clause is nothing but a dilution of scientific values and rigor. “It is a dilution of scientific values and the integrity of all systems. Mixing up of systems will lead to deterioration of all the systems. No self-respecting scientific system will allow mixing up of systems because their very basis and fundamentals are different and often contradictory. You can’t keep an auto[rickshaw] engine in an aircraft and vice versa,” said Dr Sreejith N Kumar, IMA central working committee member.
These doctors point out that the present move is only a cheap shortcut to providing illusory medical care. “IMA cannot promote an unscientific system. Modern medicine should be the main basis for scientific treatment and that should not be diluted at all. If you are going to ask modern medicine students to study all systems, it will result in the dilution of modern medicine, which in turn will affect the standard of care in this country. On the other hand, if you are going to allow other systems to study modern medicine, you are diluting and polluting that system. It is not going to benefit anyone and will be hugely detrimental for public health,” said Dr Kumar.
The doctors also fear that the move will dent the reputation of the healthcare system and doctors in India. “Today our modern medicine doctors are world-renowned and they are everywhere. Any latest procedures can be performed in India and our doctors possess the necessary skills. We are at the frontiers of medicine and that advantage should not be wasted,” added Dr Asokan.
These allopathic doctors feel that the present move is not the right way to promote ayurveda or any other systems. “Basically, allopathy and AYUSH streams are entirely different systems. The growth of other systems should be a vertical growth,” according to Dr Asokan.
Dr Kumar said that mixing up of the systems is not the right way to promote ayurveda. “If you want to improve Ayurveda, you have to conduct indigenous research in ayurveda with all the concepts and improve the traditional system,” he said.
IMA stated that they will fight against the clause with tooth and nail. “It cannot be allowed to happen. It will cause multiple damages to the healthcare system. We will do whatever we can do [to stop it]. Now, we are in the process of studying the impact of the clause. We will come out with a document which will go down to the last member. We will present the matter before the public in a way they can understand,” said Dr Asokan
Will benefit patients: AMAI
Meanwhile, ayurvedic medical practitioners have largely welcomed the move and said that it would help to clear the misconception about ayurveda among allopathic doctors. “The ayurveda syllabus already has all the subjects of modern medicine, except pharmacology. However, the syllabus of modern medicine does not include any subjects of ayurveda. The opposition and misconception that ayurveda is not scientific is mainly due to the lack of basic knowledge. If the strength and weakness of each system is identified, it will help the patients in a great way,” said Dr Sadath Dinakar, General Secretary, Ayurveda Medical Association of India (AMAI).
Dr Dinakar pointed out that combination treatment does not mean applying different systems of medicine at the same time. “It is beneficial for referring patients to the cheaper and patient-friendly treatment by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each system of medicine. It is good to have basic knowledge about the two systems as it will benefit the patients,” he said, adding that in many states, both allopathy and ayurveda are functioning side by side. Ayurveda doctors have already been given permission to practice allopathy in many states to address the issue of shortage of doctors in rural areas, he said.