In addition to the farmers, the Modi Government now faces strike by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for its unilateral decision to allow the Postgraduate degree holders in Ayurveda to perform at least 58 kinds of surgical procedures including general surgery, ENT, ophthalmology, and dental procedures. The government has amended the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016 for the purpose. The gazette notification was issued by the Central Council of Indian Medicine, a statutory body under the AYUSH Ministry. As per the government order, Ayurveda medics will be required to get trained with qualified doctors of modern medicine before they can perform these surgeries. Ayurveda can address some lifestyle diseases but finds little or no use treating acute infections and emergencies including surgery.
This decision has not gone down well with the IMA which has called it as a “retrograde step of mixing systems” and termed it as ‘Mixopathy’. The healthcare workers began a nationwide strike on Friday morning that has since been joined by thousands of doctors from across India. As part of the strike, all non-urgent procedures and surgeries between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Indian Standard Time) have been halted. Emergency services like casualty, labour rooms, ICU duties, and urgent surgeries are operational across the nation. The IMA has also urged all doctors to refrain from teaching surgical techniques to Ayurveda doctors. Prior to the call to the strike, the IMA had announced Public demonstrations at 10,000 spots across India on Tuesday, the 8th of December 2020 from 12 to 2 pm.
On 25th November, the IMA had issued a call for ‘direct action’ against the AYUSH Ministry’s decision. In its terse clarification, the Ayush Ministry said “It is, however, clarified that all scientific advances including standardised terminologies are inheritances of the entire mankind. No individual or group has a monopoly over these terminologies. The modern terminologies in the field of medicine, are not modern from a temporal perspective but are derived substantially from ancient languages like Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit, and later languages like Arabic.”
While Ayurveda has its benefits it is less popular to modern medicine because it is time-consuming, slower in providing relief and in most cases prohibitively costly. Created in 2014, the Ayush Ministry oversees over 4.8 lakh Ayurveda physicians, 256 Ayurvedic medical colleges, over 2,400 Ayurveda hospitals and hundreds of Ayurveda pharmacies. It is also engaged in education, research, conservation and preservation of medicinal plants. AYUSH encompasses Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.