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Allowing Ayurvedic practitioners to perform surgery sparks further controversy

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. Dr.saptarshi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The proposal to permit Ayurvedic practitioners to perform surgery continues to garner controversy. The Resident Doctors’ Association at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has spoken out against the move and called for it to be scrapped. 

The proposal to allow Ayurvedic practitioners runs the risk of “[encouraging] quackery” and “[poses a] hazardous risk” to public health, the doctors said. Addressing Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan in a letter, the resident doctors questioned “mixing of streams” of medicine – one derisively referred to by some as ‘mixopathy.’ 

“This journey of modern medicine is entirely different from that of Ayurveda,” the doctors said. “Therefore, it is neither legitimate nor safe for our patients to be treated by the doctors with incomplete knowledge of the different streams.”

It added “standing in solidarity with all the practitioners and learners of modern medicine in India we oppose these new regulations which would encourage quackery and demand its immediate withdrawal in order to preserve the sanctitude and uphold the virtues of both Ayurveda and modern medicine and above all to safeguard the health of the patients and population. If no immediate action is taken against the same, we shall be forced to take strict, further steps.”

In response to the proposal, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) called for a strike to take place on December 11th. The move is to affect non-essential services, though is not reported to affect intensive care or COVID-19-related matters. The organisation said “the IMA will have no objections for the council to develop their own dedicated disciplines without mixing modern medicine surgical disciplines.”

Government efforts to promote AYUSH have been a long-standing source of controversy, especially during the pandemic. As previously reported by Health Issues India, “as early as January, commentators ridiculed the AYUSH [Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy] Ministry for suggesting homoeopathic and unani treatments may be effective in treatment of the disease…the world currently hedges its bets on effective therapeutics for and vaccines against the novel coronavirus. 

“The alternative is a continued outbreak of a deadly disease on a mammoth scale. Promotion of unproven treatments is far from helpful. As such, authorities and commentators must engage in responsible conduct when discussing therapies – be they allopathic or otherwise.”

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