Permitting Ayurvedic practitioners to conduct surgery-good or bad

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Pardeep Kumar Sharma
The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) which is the only regulatory body for the study and practice of Ayurveda in India, has, with the previous permission of central government , made some amendments in the Indian medicine central council( Post-Graduate Ayurveda education) regulation 2016. In November this year, by this amendment it has aimed and proposed to provide orientation of specialities and super- specialities of ayurveda, and to produce experts and specialists who can be competent and efficient in their respective fields. The most important thing in this amendment is that it has allowed Ayurvedic doctors to be trained and legally enabled to perform minor surgical procedures including ENT, ophthalmology, orthopaedic and dental procedures. It has, thereby, given rise to a national debate and nationwide protest by the allopathic doctors.
Until now, the debate was limited to Ayurvedic Vedayas using allopathic drugs to treat symptoms. But now it has been enlarged to include contentious views on Ayurvedic vedayas performing surgeries as well.
In furtherance of this, a daylong nationwide strike has been observed on December 11, 2020. Indian Medical Association (IMA), an umbrella organisation for all conventional doctors and surgeons criticized the legislation and said it was a ‘mixopathy’ and said that it trivialised the medical profession, and as consequence of this, gave a call for a nationwide strike. However, the traditional medical practitioners had described the criticism as ‘misconception’ and said that there is no risk of ‘crosspathy’.
It is, however, pertinent to mention here that it is a misconceived notion that Ayurvedic practitioners are not trained in surgeries. It is their claim that their methods and practices trace their origin to Sushruta, an ancient Indian sage and physician, whose medical treatise Sushruta Samhita includes detailed accounts of surgical procedures and instruments.
There are two branches of surgeries in Ayurveda- Shalya Tantra, which refers to general surgery, and Shalkya Tantra which relates to surgeries pertains to eyes, ears, nose, throat and teeth.
By virtue of the course that ayurvedic students have to undergo, they are made to study these aspects in detail and some of them even prefer to have specialisation in this. But the irony is that still they are not treated at parity with the allopathic surgeons. To support the point, one must look at the syllabi of BAMS, wherein Ayurvedic students are made to study all the modern subjects including Anatomy, pathology, forensic, pharmacology, medicine, ENT, paediatrics and surgery.
Unfortunately all that they are left with is ‘theory’. If they are not to be given a chance of applying their knowledge to some practical use, then why is it compulsory for BAMS student to learn these subjects?
This order of the government should be hailed and seen as a good step for the upliftment of the traditional medical practice. Best efforts, on the part of government, are required for its further progress.
It clearly is grounded on a very weak base to debar ayurvedic practitioners to conduct surgeries, keeping in mind the established fact that they are also made to go through the same books, training and studies as the allopathic surgeon do.
It is, therefore, high time for the central government that this puzzle of different standards must be solved as early as possible. However, this must be subject to patient’s safety as it also involves a question revolving around lives of innocent patients. Hence, before implementing this order, the central government must endeavour to provide adequate training and continuous practice to the Ayurveda practitioners, which makes them capable of attaining the required perfection.

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