A delegation of party members met with the state’s Health Minister Etela Rajender, encouraging the establishment of Ayurvedic hospitals for each district in the state using government-issued funds. The delegation included Bandaru Dattatreya, a former Minister of State for Labour and Employment who previously represented Secunderabad in the Lok Sabha and is a prominent figure in BJP politics in the state.
“We have…requested the minister that Central government is allotting funds to the state and 58 crores are lying with the Ayush [Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Hooeopathy] department,” Dattatreya said. “The health department should start Ayurvedic hospitals in all the districts of Telangana.” Rajender was reportedly receptive to the delegation’s exhortations.
An issue which arose during the meeting was a proposal to move a government Ayurvedic hospital in the state capital Hyderabad. The proposal, which is opposed by the BJP, would see the fifty-year-old hospital moved from its current site near the Charminar mosque to Erregada, a residential area in west Hyderabad. Dattatreya has submitted a memorandum to Rajender encouraging the existing infrastructure and human resources of the facility be strengthened, rather than move it out of reach of local people. “We… requested [Rajender] not to shift the Charminar Hospital because many patients who believe in Ayurveda visit this hospital,” Dhattetreya said following their meeting.
The Narendra Modi government has been keen to promote AYUSH since coming to power, establishing the Union Ministry of AYUSH in 2014 to further this aim. The opening of new facilities has been a staple of news coverage surrounding AYUSH in recent months.
In December, it was announced that dedicated departments for Ayurveda would be opened in all nineteen All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), as well as more than 100 Employees’ States Insurance Corporation (ESIC) hospitals and seven Border Security Force and other paramilitary hospitals. Last June, the Centre announced the opening of AYUSH hospitals in 100 districts.
Earlier this year, Union Minister for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik called for 12.5 lakh health and wellness centres to expand access to AYUSH services and promote the practises at the grassroots level. Meanwhile, numerous high-profile establishments have been opened such as an Rs 8 crore state-of-the-art homoeopathy lab at the University of Calcutta and the Centre has been keen to promote AYUSH abroad – exemplified by Prime Minister Modi’s promotion of alternative and traditional medicine at this year’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
AYUSH is becoming increasingly popular in India. 77 percent of Indian households used Ayurvedic products in 2017 and, in 2018, it was reported that a fifty percent increase in patients seeking homoeopathic treatments had been observed in the preceding five years, with some individuals even preferring alternative medicine therapies to allopathic treatments. As such, it is clear that there is an appetite for such facilities – and even if AYUSH cannot act as a substitute for allopathic medicine in the overwhelming majority of cases, it can certainly complement it. Regardless, whether in just one state or across India, it is evident that the AYUSH push shows no sign of abating.