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Promoting Indian systems of medicine by passage of two AYUSH bills in Parliament

Alternative medicine

On the 17th of March 2020, the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament) tabled two bills for consideration. The first was the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and the second, the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019.

The purpose of these bills is to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and create a regulated medical education system to ensure the availability of quality medical professionals practising the Indian System of Medicine such as Ayurveda. This, along with providing quality medical education for Homeopathy and adopting of the latest medical research are the primary objectives of these bills. Some of the others are to include a periodic assessment of medical institutions and an effective grievance redressal mechanism.

The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 provides for the establishment of a Constitution of the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM). It is to consist of 29 members appointed by the central government.

The NCISM will serve a number of functions. These include:

  1. Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and medical professionals of Indian System of Medicine
  2. Assessing the requirements of healthcare-related human resources and infrastructure
  3. Ensuring compliance by the state medical councils of Indian System of Medicine of the regulations made under the Bill
  4. Ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill.

The word ‘Homeopathy’ is derived from the Greek ‘Homois’ meaning similar and ‘Pathos’ meaning suffering. The practice believes in the treatment of ‘like with like’, in accordance with a natural law of healing - "Similia Similibus Curantur” which translates to ‘likes are cured by likes’, and in the early 19th century Dr. Samuel Hahnemann codified the method.

Since then, homoeopathy has been widely practised in India. The practice blended well with the traditions of the subcontinent and was soon recognised as one of the National Systems of Medicine. Its strength lies in its holistic approach towards the sick individual through the promotion of inner mental, emotional, spiritual and physical balance.

Similar to the NCISM Bill, the National Commission for Homeopathy Bill, 2019 provides for the establishment of a National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH). The NCH will consist of 20 members established by the central government.

Further, within three years of the passage of the Bill, state governments will establish state medical councils for Homoeopathy at the state level.

The NCH will serve different functions. These include:

  1. Framing policies for regulating medical institutions and homoeopathic medical professionals
  2. Assessing the requirements of healthcare-related human resources and infrastructure
  3. Ensuring compliance by the state medical councils of Homoeopathy of the regulations made under the Bill
  4. Ensuring coordination among the autonomous boards set up under the Bill.

Both the bills propose a uniform National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to under-graduate education in each of the disciplines of the Indian System of Medicine in all medical institutions.

They also suggest the creation of a National Teachers’ Eligibility Test for postgraduates of each discipline of the Indian System of Medicine who wish to take up teaching that particular discipline as a profession.

According to a report by CII, the Ayurveda industry is projected to record a compounded annual growth rate of a robust 16 % until 2025. The challenges to this sector, as pointed out by the CII study, were primarily a shortage of manpower and a shortage of quality raw materials.

The shortage of skilled professionals including doctors, paramedical staff, therapists and nurses are what the Bill seeks to remedy, as well as the lack of uniformity in skill and knowledge among the available manpower.

Homoeopathy, which has been subject to opposition from many quarters for the two centuries, is now emerging a system of medicine patronised by governments and people alike due to its inherent safety, efficacy and standardisation.

The Rajya Sabha has decided to discuss the bills further for their consideration and passage on Wednesday 18th March 2020.

 

This blog was authored by Kartikeya Saigal.