Ministry of AYUSH
The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, abbreviated as AYUSH, is a governmental body in India purposed with developing, education and research in the field of alternative medicines including ayurveda, yoga, unani, naturopathy, siddha and homoeopathy. The ministry is headed by a Minister of State (Independent Charge) which is currently occupied by Shripad Naik.
Successive five year plans had allotted considerable focus to alternative (and esp. indigenous) forms of medicine under the healthcare sector. Numerous committees set up by the Government of India for the development of the healthcare sector:- Bhore (1946), Mudaliar (1961) and Srivastava Committee (1975) emphasized upon the improvement of traditional systems of medicine in India. The National Health Policy (1983), National Education Policy in Health Sciences (1989) and National Health Policy (2002) highlighted the role of Indian School of Medicine (ISM) in improving healthcare access and asked for enabling its penetration to the rural masses.
A diploma course in Ayurveda was launched in the 3rd (1961-1966) five year plan and the Central Council of Indian Medicine was established in 1970 followed by Central Council of Homeopathy in 1973. The 6th (1980-1985) and 7th (1985-1990) five year plans aimed at developing novel ISM&H drugs and utilizing ISM&H practitioners in rural family healthcare. The 8th (1992-1997) five year plan lend considerable emphasis on the mainstreaming of AYUSH. The Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) was thus launched in March 1995, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The 9th five year plan (1998-2002) ensured for its integration with western medicine and was also the first to tackle different aspects of the AYUSH system in a standalone manner and focused on an overall development ranging from investing in human resource development and preservation and cultivation of medicinal plants to completing a pharmacopoeia and outlining good manufacturing processes.
The department was renamed to AYUSH in November 2003. The National Rural Health Mission was launched in 2005 to integrate AYUSH practitioners in national health programmes esp. in primary health care (AYUSH medical officers at community health centers, para-professionals et al) and provide support for research in the field.
The ministry runs multiple healthcare programs; primarily aimed at the rural population. More than 50,000 children have been enrolled in ‘Homeopathy for Healthy Child'. It observes different days to raise general awareness about AYUSH and promote each of the systems.
AYUSH is supposed to form an integral backbone of the Ayushman Bharat Yojanaand the ministry had long worked for integrating the different systems of AYUSH with modern medicine, in what has been described as 'a type of “cross-pathy”'. The proposal has been criticized and the Indian Medical Association remains strongly opposed to it.
The ministry had collaborated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to set up the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) in 2001, on codified traditional knowledge on Indian systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga, as a means of preventing grant of "bed" patents on traditional knowledge and thus counter biopiracy.
A 2018 study by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) estimated the market share of AYUSH medicines at around USD 3 billion and that India exported AYUSH products of a net worth USD 401.68 million in the fiscal year 2016-17. The Department of Pharmaceuticals had allocated a budget of ₹ 144 crore to the ministry for 2018-2020 for manufacture of alternative medicines.
As of March 2015, there were nearly eight lakh AYUSH practitioners, over 90 per cent of whom practiced homeopathy or ayurveda.
The Washington Post has noted the efforts behind the revival of Ayurveda as a part of the ruling party's rhetoric of restoring India's past glory to achieve prosperity in the future. It also noted of the Ayurveda-industry being largely non-standardized and that its critics associated the aggressive pushing of Ayurveda into healthcare services as a product of the Hindu nationalist ideology of the ruling party.
Some researchers have argued that the provision of AYUSH services is an example of “forced pluralism” which often leads to disbursal of incompetent healthcare services by unqualified practitioners.
A strong consensus prevails among the scientific community that Homeopathy is a pseudo-scientific, non-ethical and implausible line of treatment. Ayurveda is deemed to be pseudoscientific but is occasionally considered a protoscience, or trans-science system instead.Naturopathy and Unani are considered to be forms of pseudo-scientific quackery, ineffective and possibly harmful, with a plethora of ethical issues about their practice.
The quality of the research done by the ministry has been heavily criticized. Clinical trials of homeopathic drugs, conducted by their research wings were rejected in totality by the Lancet and National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia. There has been an acute dearth of RCTs on Ayurveda and multiple systemic reviews have highlighted several methodological problems with the studies and trials conducted by AYUSH and its associates in relation to developing an Ayurvedic drug for diabetes.A tendency to publish in dubious predatory journals and non-reproducibility by independent studies has also been noted.India is also yet to conduct a systemic review of any of the systems of medicine under the purview of AYUSH.
The ministry (in conjunction with other national laboratories) has been subject to heavy criticism for developing, advocating and commercializing multiple sham-drugs (BGR-34, IME9, Dalzbone, Ayush-64 et al) and treatment-regimes for a variety of diseases including dengue, chikungunya, swine flu, asthma, autism, diabetes, malaria, AIDS, cancer et cetera despite a complete absence of rigorous pharmacological studies and/or meaningful clinical trials.
A 2018 review article noted the existing regulations to be in-adequate for ensuring the safety, quality, efficacy and standardized rational use of these forms of treatment. Monitoring of adverse effects from the usage of these drugs and contraindication trials were absent, too.
The average expenditure for drugs on AYUSH and allopathy has been found to not vary widely.
The ministry had attracted international criticism after publishing a pamphlet titled Mother and Child Care through Yoga and Naturopathy which asked pregnant women to abstain from eating meat and eggs, shun desire and lust, hang beautiful photos in the bedroom and to nurture spiritual and ‘pure’ thoughts among other advices.
The ministry had rejected the claims of inefficacy. The ministry had rejected the NHMRC's study on homeopathy; despite its critical acclaim as the most rigorous and reliable investigation into homeopathy ever and in 2017, set up a committee at the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy (CCRH) to counter western propaganda against homeopathy; which was ill-received.
A NSSO survey in 2014 found that only 6.9% of the population favored AYUSH (3.5% ISM and 3.0% homeopathy) over other lines of treatment and that the urban population was slightly more conducive to seeking AYUSH forms of treatment than their rural counterparts. A 2014 study did not report any significant difference between the usage of AYUSH services by rural and urban populace, after adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic variables. Low-income households exhibited the highest tendency for AYUSH followed by high-income households and on an overall, AYUSH lines of treatment were majorly used to treat chronic diseases. The treatments were more used among females in rural India but no gender-differential was observed in the urban populations. Chhattisgarh (15.4%), Kerala (13.7%), and West Bengal (11.6%) displayed the highest AYUSH utilization levels.
A 2018 review article noted that the states exhibited differential preference for particular AYUSH systems. Ayurveda and Siddha respectively show greater popularities in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Unani was well-received in Hyderabad region and among Muslims whilst Homeopathy was highly popular in Bengal and Odisha. It further noted that the preference among the general population for usage of AYUSH revolved around a perceived "distrust or frustration with allopathic medicine, cost effectiveness, accessibility, non-availability of other options and less side effects of AYUSH medicines".
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within the traditional medical community it is considered to be quackery
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