In a blow to the Union Health Ministry, their proposal for a bridge course that would allow practitioners of traditional medicine to practice modern medicine has faced opposition from both allopathic and homoeopathy bodies.
The National Medical Commission Bill 2017 proposed meetings between the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and the Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH). These meetings would, as part of the bill, establish the possibility of the bridge course. This would allow graduates of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) to practice allopathic medicine.
The bill drew huge amounts of criticism from the Indian Medical Association (IMA). Accusations were placed by the IMA that if the bill were to be enacted in its current form it would amount to state sanctioned quackery. KK Aggarwal, the association’s president, claimed that the “half-baked doctors” could endanger people’s lives through lack of knowledge. People may pay with their lives for the mistakes of the bill, he said.
More surprising is that, the CCH has also added scathing remarks. In a letter addressed to parliament the CCH claims “At an international level this bill is going to be a matter of ridicule”.
The CCH joins the IMA in noting the clear differences between allopathic and homoeopathic practices. “The basic principles of treatment of homoeopathy are exactly opposite to that of so-called modern medicine,” says the letter. The letter goes on to acknowledge the potential for an abundance of quack doctors “open a new legal door to produce qualified medical quacks in name of prompting medical pluralism”.
In early January many doctors at private hospitals walked out in protest at the bill. Their counterparts within public hospitals wore black armbands as a show of opposition to the bill.
The bill was proposed as a way of combating the vast shortages of doctors across the country. These shortages are even more apparent in rural areas. Healthcare facilities in these regions are often lacking. Many doctors outright refuse to work in these environments due to the lack of facilities preventing them from properly performing their job. In many instances, the doctors themselves are blamed for this and safety becomes an issue.
The bill does provide limitations on what allopathic services an AYUSH practitioner may provide. In this sense it may provide benefits in training these individuals for basic medical roles.
The bill has caused a significant amount of tension amongst the medical community. Though currently just a proposition, the bill is finding itself short of support from any medical institution. With protests from both allopathic and homoeopathic doctors and institutes, amendments may be a necessity to pass the bill.