Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members on Monday batted for higher funding for the Ministry of Aayush for encouraging traditional systems of medicine, stressing it will benefit millions of people in the country.
Some MPs also suggested a convergence of modern medical science with traditional systems of medicine like Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy during a discussion on Ministry of Ayush in the Upper House.
Initiating the debate, Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) said, “The government provided around Rs 53,000 crore for Ministry of Health and Rs 1,686 crore for Ministry of Ayush for last fiscal. Standing Committee has asked to increase the budget for the Ministry of Ayush.”
He said that the budget of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) is more than the Ministry of Ayush.
The MP said that traditional medicine systems require drug testing laboratories and encouragement for herb farming.
Yadav also asked the government to introduce NET like an all-India entrance exam for tradition medical education.
Echoing his views, Congress member Jairam Ramesh said that there is a need for convergence of tradition medical systems with modern science.
He suggested that the first three years of education curriculum for students of modern and traditional medicine should be the same.
He was of the view that the students should choose a system of medicine like Allopathy or Ayurveda in the fourth years.
He expressed concern over traditional medicine system practitioners shifting to Allopathy at a later stage. Ramesh said that it was disappointing to read in an Ayurveda journal that 80 per cent of Ayurveda doctors end up practising
He said that the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush) has a budget of less than Rs 2,000 crore for this fiscal which needs to be increased.
Ramesh asked the government to tighten the regulatory mechanism to deal with fake drugs under tradition medicine system.
He also told the House that USD 350 million worth medicinal plants and herbs are exported to other countries while India imports such drugs from other countries.
He said that Ayurveda “will not become great by chanting slogans”, rather it has to based on modern science and strict clinical trials.
He said that there should be strict provisions for penalising quacks practising traditional medicine system.
RK Selvaraj (AIADMK) stressed the need to revive India’s old medical tradition saying ancient Siddha system was helpful in curing many incurable diseases.
He claimed it was so advanced that it had records of diseases like AIDS and said modes like Panchakarma, which were cheap and efficient, should be revived.
Shantanu Sen (AITC) regretted that there were five streams under AYUSH but only two regulatory bodies and demanded that the number of doctors is increased.
He said it was a matter of concern that many states lacked Ayurveda and other doctors.
Amar Patnayak (BJD) stressed on propose implementation of schemes on the ground. He said Kerala has merged treatment under such streams with tourism and also demanded an AYUSH university at Puri.
Ram Nath Thakur (JDU) said there was a need to revive the ancient Indian medicine systems while K Keshava Rao (TRS) said it was Ayurveda which made him fit at the age of 80 and advocated reviving old literature like Bhavaprakash.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) expressed concern over rampant online sale of drugs and said there should be regulation.
He demanded enhanced budget under AYUSH and not mere tokenism.
K Somaprasad (CPI-M) too demanded to revive AYUSH at government hospitals.
Sanjay Raut (Shiv Sena) said while the West was encouraging drinks made of milk and turmeric, Indian people were ignoring them.
He demanded at least Rs 10,000 crore budget for AYUSH.
Ashok Siddharth (BSP) said the number of Ayurveda and Unani hospitals is inadequate in the country.
Viplove Thakur (Cong) urged the government to take steps to ensure traditional medicine doctors are treated on a par with Allopathy doctors.
He also said that the government should take measures to standardise traditional medicine and develop them in a scientific manner besides increasing the budget of the ministry.
Vijita Sathyananth (AIADMK) demanded the government recognise ‘nilavembu kudineer’ (a Siddha medicine) “which provides protection against chikungunya virus and dengue”.
K J Alphons (BJP) said he does not want to say traditional medicine is better than other systems. A framework for the AYUSH Ministry has been created and that needs to be further strengthened by working together.
Madhusudan Mistry (Cong) suggested the government begin documentation of traditional tribal medicines and appoint one nurse in each of the rural health centres.
BJP member Satyanarayan Jatiya also participated in the debate.