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An AYUSH hospital for every district

The Maharashtra government is advancing plans to realise the broader ambitions of the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), with the announcement of plans to erect an AYUSH hospital in each of the state’s districts. 

The plans were announced by Subhash Gholap, assistant director of the state AYUSH department, coinciding with Dhanteras, the first day of Diwali. In 2016, the AYUSH Ministry designated Dhanteras as National Ayurveda Day, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Dhanvantari, the Hindu God of medicine. Dhanteras celebrations were commemorated on Friday.

The Maharashtra state government has promoted AYUSH in line with central efforts to do the same. Notably, the state government earlier this year embraced a proposal to allow for AYUSH practitioners to undergo a six-month bridge course to enable them to practise allopathic medicine. Despite the controversy surrounding the proposal when it was first announced by the Centre – with fears being expressed that it would invite a new generation of quacks – Maharashtra saw 1,000 AYUSH practitioners complete the bridge course in May as the state government invited further applicants. 

Nationally, there are numerous plans for expansion of AYUSH facilities throughout the country. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Centre would establish 12,500 health and wellness centres to dispense AYUSH services, of which 4,000 would be constructed this year. This followed on from AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik calling for 12,500 centres to be established in February. 

In addition, calls have been issued for AYUSH to be incorporated into the Centre’s flagship health insurance scheme Ayushman Bharat with the AYUSH ministry proposing the addition of AYUSH treatments among the packages covered for beneficiaries under the initiative. Rs 200 crore has been set aside for funding integrated health research, binding allopathic and alternative medicine for a holistic approach. An AYUSH grid to connect alternative medicine institutes nationwide has also been launched. 

At the state level, Maharashtra is far from the only state to embrace India’s AYUSH push. In Telangana, BJP members met with the state health minister earlier this year to encourage the establishment of Ayurvedic institutes. In Himachal Pradesh, the state cabinet recently approved plans to upgrade alternative healthcare facilities in the state. With the plan for an AYUSH hospital in every district in Maharashtra, it is patent that the AYUSH push in the state shows no sign of slowing down.

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