Instead of dealing with burning issues such as rampant cases of Dengue, Chickengunya, recurrent polio, and newer strains of tuberculosis (TB), and unacceptable child and maternity mortality rates, Federal Health Minister wants standardization of Ayurveda. Anbumani Ramdoss says that the Government is committed to standardize Ayurveda, an ancient herbal medicine dating back thousands of years, so there will be a “treatment protocol” for global acceptance.
As seen by thousands of global medical help seekers in Kerala, there is already a global acceptance except among some Indian allopathic doctors who see Ayurvedic and other traditional alternate treatments as a threat. Hence, there is a vilification campaign of Ayurveda among such groups raising “concerns” about the validity of what is being cured, contents of the medication, level of hard metals, and even a ridiculous allegation of human bones.
In order to lend legitimacy to his suggestion, Ramdoss, while innaigurating the 2nd World Ayurveda Congress at the Pune University, says that he will grant Rs. 120 crore (USD 25 million) to develop this “treatment protocol” and infrastructure buildup. He also wants to “standardize drugs and monitor the mineral and other contents for the medicines” and says that “scientific validation and molecular research” is required for the medicine “to be acceptable.” What Ramdoss does not understand is that the said protocol already exists and in extremely detailed form and the medicines are already accepted by millions. What he is talking about is a regulation of Ayurvedic medication much like how the allopathic medicine is.
The problem is that allopathic medication in India is badly regulated and many do not have clear printed details of expiry dates, dosage requirements, or contents. Worse, several allopathic doctors treating the poor have questionable qualifications, certification, and methods of treatment. With such problems in mainstream medicine, the question is why the burning necessity to regulate an ancient practice that we hardly understand?
Of course, not all his suggestions were baseless. His ideas of integrating and cross-pollinating course work between allopathic and Ayurvedic sciences have a lot of merit. While he did not propose methods by which Ayurvedic medicine may not be banned in some countries, his cognizance of this issue is significant. Furthermore, the propagation of traditional herbs found only in forests in a secure and accessible environment is another issue that needs addressing and his plans to create 10 plantations in addition to the existing three in Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala is significant.
Instead of meaningless regulation in the name of “standardization,” Ramdoss should spend the proposed grant to document traditional herbs, create appropriate advisory labels, easily accessible testing facilities, a statistically significant testing mechanism.