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Ayurveda in Kerala’s fight against COVID

Ayurveda.The Kerala state government is reportedly to use Ayurveda in the fight against COVID-19. 

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan seemed to confirm as much earlier this week, stating “we have decided to use Ayurveda in mitigating the spread of COVID-19. People would be classified into seven categories based on the possible spread of the virus, and they would be advised ayurvedic treatment as per this classification.” In this endeavour, ANI reports, Ayur Raksha clinics will be established at Ayurvedic hospitals and dispensaries.

Homoeopathy can also be sought out, according to Vijayan. When, at the end of March, it was reported that the state government was contemplating roping in Ayurveda in the COVID-19 fight, homoeopaths were reportedly angered that they had ostensibly been excluded from the conversation. As reported in The Deccan Herald at the time

“[Homoeopaths] are aggrieved that the Kerala government was not giving prominence to homoeopathy even as the effect of homoeopathy was very well evident in fighting many epidemics like cholera, dengue, chikungunya, typhoid and cerebral malaria. They suspect lobbying by modern medicine doctors against [homoeopathy].”

An official in the state Department of Homoeopathy has pushed for increased involvement of alternative and traditional systems such as homoeopathy of medicine in tackling COVID-19. Quoted in The New Indian Express, they said “a detailed plan on how homoeopathy could play a role in Covid-19 prevention and rehabilitation is yet to be made. Instead, state-run [homoeopathy] hospitals have been asked to discharge in-patients and refer even patients arriving with common flu to the nearest primary health centre. The state government and Department of AYUSH should reconsider this.”

Involving alternative and traditional medicine in the fight against COVID-19 is not unheard of. One practitioner claimed to have found the cure for COVID-19 through siddha medicine.

However, there has been controversy over claims that alternative and traditional medicine can be used to prevent or cure COVID-19 as there is no scientific basis for or validation of the same. For example, an AYUSH Ministry advisory concerning COVID-19 was ridiculed. Journalist Sandhya Ramesh denounced it as “irresponsible, dangerous pseudoscientific quackery mixed in with generic personal hygiene recommendations.” Such controversies have not stopped alternative therapies being promoted, such as in Kerala and Telangana. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reached out to AYUSH practitioners over COVID-19. He celebrated practices such as yoga and thanked their promotion of it as a form of exercise beneficial to physical health and overall wellbeing. However, he also “underlined the importance of countering and fact-checking unsubstantiated claims of AYUSH having cure for the disease, adding that AYUSH scientists, ICMR [Indian Council of Medical Research], CSIR [Council of Scientific and Industrial Research] and other research organisations must come together for evidence-based research.”

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