Debate over integrating traditional and modern medicine

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Allopathy practitioners question the ability of present-day Ayurveda doctors in conducting surgeries in conjunction with anaesthetists.

Hyderabad: Practitioners of the modern Allopathy and traditional Indian medicine are on a warpath following the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) notification allowing PG Ayurveda students to conduct surgical procedures. With the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Allopathy doctors’ body, set to take up all India strike of all non-essential and non-Covid medical services across the country on Friday, a debate has ensued over the concept of integrating Indian systems of medicine with modern medical practices.

The IMA has been aggressive in opposing attempts by the Central government to harmonise all medical disciplines and offer them under one roof for patients. While Allopathy practitioners acknowledge Sushruta, the ancient Indian physician who authored the treatise Susruta-Samhita, as the father of surgery, they question the ability of present-day Ayurveda doctors in conducting surgeries in conjunction with anaesthetists. The IMA has defined such attempt as ‘Mixopathy’ and ‘Khichdification’ of Indian medical education.

The practitioners of Indian medicine, however, maintain that both the disciplines can co-exist, which will eventually benefit patients. They say the syllabus in Bachelor in Ayurveda and Medical Sciences (BAMS) spread over five-and-half-years like MBBS extensively covers theory and practical including clinical training in attached teaching hospitals. There is no dearth of talented BAMS PG students who can pick up basic surgical skills, if trained properly, they said.

“Modern surgical techniques not anybody’s private property”

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Dr VLN Sastry

I do not agree with the stand taken by IMA on this issue and urge broadminded allopathic doctor friends with proper understanding on Ayurveda, not to oppose permissions to perform surgeries for Ayurvedic doctors. Like an MBBS PG student, even BAMS students spend close to a decade in mastering specialities and to get a license. The BAMS degree is followed by a 3 year PG course (MD Ayurveda/MS Ayurveda) and two year PhD (Ayurveda).

Sushruta has clearly described numerous surgical instruments and devices together with some procedures and it is a fact that most of the present modern surgical equipment is the metamorphosis of those descriptions. Ayurveda also is making lot of efforts in developing own surgical techniques.

Modern surgical techniques and skills are not anybody’s private property. Anyone can learn, acquire competency and implement unless patent rights are there backed by law. Surgery is a technique and is different from prescribing Allopathic medicine. We are conscious for which we have licence and for which we don’t have. Integrating modern and Indian streams of medicine is a progressive move. Ayurveda doctors achieved top class results in treating patients with Fistula by working closely with anaesthesia specialists. How is it wrong?

Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has trained Allopathy doctors to learn this Ayurvedic technique and has even allowed them to practice. With proper training, Ayurveda students could also take up certain surgeries, which will ensure proper trained experts are available even in remote areas.

Dr VLN Sastry- Academician, clinician and researcher for the past 40 years in Ayurveda, retired as Additional Director, AYUSH, united AP.

‘Move will have serious implications on public health’

Young practitioners of modern medicine spend more than a decade to become a top class surgeon. Surgeons of Indian origin are top draw in countries like UK and the US and are highly respected because they excel in their craft as they spend years honing their surgical skills.

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Dr C Sairam

Now, the question is can Ayurveda students bring such excellence in their surgical skills? Do they have the same ability and qualification to wield the scalpel? Can they match the same quality of treatment? We also wonder why this sudden need to poach modern medicine and its surgical disciplines?

Just by providing training with the assistance of modern medical doctors, you can’t legitimise encroachment into the jurisdiction and competencies of the modern medicine. The CCIM amendment is encroaching upon the nomenclature of modern medicine degrees and allows Ayurveda students to ‘avail of’ surgical techniques and teachings. IMA doesn’t believe in mixing all streams of medicine and such decisions will have serious implications on the health of the people and severely impact the growth of modern medicine in India.

Dr C Sairam, president-elect IMA, Hyderabad, Chairperson for IMA speciality doctors and senior oncologist.


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