Traditional medicine in India has been at the forefront of the country’s healthcare development policy discourse for the past many decades. However, the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic and the repeated waves of infections that followed, have led to a consequent search for alternative modes of medication and prevention. This has underlined the transition to more immunity focused, preventive method of individual healthcare. Several ayurvedic medicines, including Ayush kadha and many such other products have been in regular utilisation by individuals in the COVID-era, to boost their immunity. This has led to unprecedented growth in the products of this sector, including medicines, supplements, cosmetics and therapies- as AYUSH sector is currently valued at over $ 18 million, a significant leap from less than $ 3 million in 2014.
Despite scepticism and suspicion around such medicinal therapies, especially in the domestic market, in comparison to their modern counterparts, these treatments have time and again proved their efficacy and are beginning to be accepted as preventive procedures and/or in complement to the existing curative methods. In the global market, several geographies are notable advocates of these therapies, particularly ayurvedic medicines and treatments. For instance, German speaking countries, including individuals from Germany, Austria, Switzerland believe very strongly in these methods. Several ayurvedic wellness retreats and yoga centers have seen repeated foreign customers from such geographies.
Thus, there exists massive potential in India’s ancient and traditional treatment methods, particularly for in-person restorative therapies. Realizing the tremendous potential that this market offers, it is now one of the main focus areas receiving significant facilitation from both the central and state governments. In addition to this the AYUSH industry has been taking several initiatives for marketing and promotion of such services and supplementing commodities in pivotal markets. The recent global Aayush investment and innovation summit witnessed the continuation of facilitation measures for the further development of this sector.
In the arena of medical tourism or medical value travel, the search for care in foreign lands requires patients to interact with stakeholders at various levels and across various sectors, agencies and departments, in the host nation. Thus, facilitation measures in this account require patient-focused efforts that are uniform and unbridled with innumerable procedural challenges. One significant step, thus, taken to attract several foreign travelers for traditional medical therapies in the country was to provide unhindered access to such treatments. The introduction of the special AYUSH visa category was announced in the recent summit to promote AYUSH medical tourism with the underlying theme of ‘Heal in India’. This will be augmented with the development of a network of AYUSH parks to channelise the promotion, research and manufacturing of AYUSH products and services across the country to the foreign customers and investors. The special category visa will make travel easier for accessing AYUSH therapies for foreign individuals and contribute in positioning the country at the forefront of global alternative medicine providers. In furtherance to such positive impact, the visa provisions are envisaged to boost the tourism industry of the country, keeping in consideration the adverse impact the sector continues to face owing to the repeated lockdowns and mobility restrictions. The Prime Minister rightly highlighted the role and significance of traditional medicine in boosting state tourism of Kerala and further underlined similar prospects in various states of the country.
As the country has entered the Amrit Kaal, such confidence building measures can prove to be of exponential benefit to the sector’s contribution in the country’s economy and its performance in the global scenario, under the ethos of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.
This article has been co-authored by Ishita Sirsikar and Srijata Deb.