Are AYUSH systems quackery?

India has a pluralistic healthcare system. Apart from modern medicine, the country approves practice of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy as valid medicines. (popularly called AYUSH)

Ideally, this should look like an array of choice for the citizens. But it is not. India also has a massive shortage of doctors – a shortage of around 6 lacs. The doctor patient ratio is way below what is being recommended by World Health Organization (WHO). The situation is even worse in rural areas since over 60 percent of Indian medical staff is concentrated in Urban areas where only 30 percent of the population lives.

To top it up, the medical professionals fail to agree with each other and at times even with the Govt. Health ministry. A recent case in point is the Indian Medical Association (IMA) putting out a release claiming that all AYUSH systems are quackery. Based on that, even Wikipedia lists down Ayurveda on the list of quackery. IMA also called out the Health Minister for his recommendation of AYUSH based medicines and diet.

While we will not go into the politics of things, our concern and sympathies are with the common citizen who gets caught up in between. In one hand, they do not have enough doctors and in the other hand they are being told that their belief on Alternative Medicines is also unscientific and dangerous? What are they supposed to do?

As a country, it puts our healthcare policies in a crossroad. Between 2016 and 2019, 155 new AYUSH colleges started in India. Are these colleges producing quacks? Is India creating a bunch of pseudo doctors every year who will be going out treating people based on unscientific, unproven methodologies?

Our guests for this discussion are Dr. Satish Tyagi, Vice President, Delhi Medical Association (a chapter of IMA) and Dr. P. Rammanohar, Research Director, Amrita School of Ayurveda.

While Dr. Rammanohar points out to the lack of collaborative environment that doesn’t allow pluralistic medicinal environment to thrive beneficially, Dr.Tyagi emphasized on the need to re-invent Ayurveda.

We felt, the topic requires much more discussion and debate. It requires a common citizen to stand up and say – either denounce all medicine practices other than modern medicine (Allopathy) and then give us enough doctors and hospitals around that, else create a collaborative environment where medical professionals, irrespective of their fields, learn to respect each other and work towards the greater good of patients. Because, when doctors work in silos and hold their ego prime, it is the patients who suffer.

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