WriteUps By Amritpal Singh
Dr.Amritpal singh- PROFESSOR (DRAVYAGUNA)-SS Ayurvedic college-Bhikhi (Mansa)
Dr.Raman Sharma- READER (SWASTHAVRITTA)-SS Ayurvedic College-Bhikhi (Mansa)
Ayurveda education has undergone radical changes particularly in COVID-19 illness and the emerging challenges have forced the apex bodies to accept the path of evidence based medicine for survival purposes. Regular communication with stress on modern advances from member bearers of National Commission of Indian Medicine with teachers is a testimonial to the changed vision.
Recommendation of Online Research Methods Course (Basic Course in Biomedical Research) is significant but NCISM should device research methodology course based on AYUSH principles and practices of medicine. It is worthwhile to note that AYUSH qualifications are not part of eligiblity criteria for the course. Research methodology course based on AYUSH principles and practices of medicine can set up the pulse of research in Ayurveda and a comprehensive platform for propagation of evidence based approach.
In fact, the councils of various systems of medicine have been on a warpath with respect to utility among masses. An advisory issued by Ministry of AYUSH couple of years back correlated to research on AYUSH by non-AYUSH scientists drew criticism from the scientific community. Ministry of AYUSH has joined hands with CSIR, DBT and DST for collaborative research so as to set the evidence based tune for AYUSH systems of medicine.
As a matter of fact, FICCI has called for long-term action plan to promote innovation eco system in AYUSH sector. All India Institute of Ayurveda has signed MoU with Safdarjung Hospital to establish integrative medicine unit. Similarly, inauguration of Incubation Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at All India Institute of Ayurveda is another step in fostering global standards.
AYUSH Export Promotion Council, WHO centre for Traditional Medicine and Global AYUSH Summit are other initiatives proving that finally Ministry of AYUSH has accepted the mandate for radical change in AYUSH approaches at global level. AYUSH Foods a new chapter has been initiated with FSSAI for setting benchmark for traditional Ayurvedic foods.
What is the utility of above mentioned happenings for an AYUSH teacher, practitioner and student? In fact, majority of AYUSH institutions are stressing upon students to adopt AYUSH as choice of clinical practice. Contrary to this, 80% of students opt for allopathic practice so as to meet daily life requirements. Yes, government service is an exception, where a fixed emolument is a certainty.
AYUSH institutions are not taught subjects like life sciences and biotechnology. Applied knowledge is vital for commercialization of any science and this is badly missing in AYUSH. Lack of practical and evidence based protocols of treatment for majority of diseases has paralyzed the practical utility of AYUSH systems of medicine. Companies are spending huge money on advertisements instead of fostering research and development and watchdog companies are silent with respect to irrational claims despite several warnings.
In fact, in the prevailing era of cut throat competition and super specialty advances, AYUSH systems of medicine are witnessing a vacuum, hard to define. As far as sales of AYUSH products in the market are concerned, a sharp decline has been witnessed despite tall claims by the apex bodies and stake holders. Definitely, the COVID 19 illness has detrimental effect on AYUSH product domestic and international market. If sales of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbal Products (both hold the major shares of the Herbal Business) have been paralyzed due to COVID 19 illness, dip in AYUSH is self-explanatory.
AYUSH institutions are reeling under pressure due to delayed and limited admissions, and senior faculty shortage. A limited admission in postgraduate courses is concern of worry since majority of institutions have started courses eying the future trends. Vacant seats after finishing of stray rounds has sent a clear message on the wall that all is not well with AYUSH education industry. There is an acute shortage of senior faculty including professors and readers.
Truly speaking, AYUSH institutions are witnessing decreased trends in admission for some years. Prospective students appearing in NEET are probably not conversant with the level of studies in preliminary year. Perhaps, an entrance test leading to admission in AYUSH undergraduate courses should be segregated from NEET leading to admission in MBBS and BDS courses.
Recently M.Sc courses in Ayurveda have been introduced by National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur. Similarly, Integrated BSc-MSc course in Ayurvedic Biology has been pioneered by JNU, New Delhi which is a sign of diversification from traditional Ayurveda postgraduate courses. This is a clear cut indication that even top player sin Ayurvedic education are looking for alternative approaches for survival. Approval of BSc-MSc courses in Ayurveda must be ensured for secured career prospects as unrecognized qualifications have rocked careers of several teachers and practitioner sin the past.
Salary issues in AYUSH institutions are another burning topic probably due to practical Human Resource policy for AYUSH. Cut in salaries during COVID 19 illness despite warning from the statutory bodies. In this regard, Central Council of Homeopathy issued F.No. 14-22/2018-CCH-59 dated 29.04.2020 for self financed/Government aided Homeopathic colleges for strict compliance. Similarly, Central Council of Indian Medicine issued F.No. 20-5/2020-CCIM (PMRF) dated 30.04.2020 for self financed Ayurvedic colleges for strict compliance. These orders/notifications have little/no impact as some of the private AYUSH institutions have paid half salary despite warnings. Recent post by National Commission of Indian Medicine on standardized salary pattern in AYUSH colleges may have impact in near future.
All is not well for government AYUSH institutions also as salary issues has been rocking faculty of Government Ayurevdic College Patiala for some years now. Here for both private and government institutions, affiliating universities are equally responsible. Lack of proper HR policy in AYUSH sector has to be blamed. Downtrend of aspirants in AYUSH is self-explanatory as nobody has seriously worked on improving commercial viability of AYUSH.
NITI Aayog has released compendium of various AYUSH-based initiatives, practices adopted by States/UTs for containing, managing COVID-19. A task force was constituted by AYUSH ministry for initiating novel research for discovering AYUSH answer for COVID 19 illness but the recommendations never reached AYUSH practitioners/ researchers. Common people remained confused about genuine utility of AYUSH approaches in the management of COVID 19 illness.
AYUSH systems of medicine have served ailing humanity since times immemorial. Emergence of new diseases like COVID 19 and other one have badly affected the conventional and alternative medicine pharmaceutical industry. The developments initiated by apex bodies are promising but late, since talks about global acceptance of AYUSH have been highlighted almost 20 years back.
AYUSH systems of medicine shall remain in pure form or shall be part of the integrative medicine, is an obvious question. Also application of Life Sciences, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Sciences for AYUSH needs to be explored with open mind. The teachers and students should also be part of these developments. AYUSH undergraduate and postgraduate degrees should be included as eligibility criteria in various national tests so as the students can become conversant with the integration of modern sciences with AYUSH.
University Grant Commission directed the central universities to include AYUSH subjects as an option for PhD studies. Lukewarm response has been witnessed and lack of original AYUSH protocols can be blamed for giving shape to such directives. AYUSH definitely needs nurturing for future survival just like engineering institutions across the country.