Allopathy practitioners may be up in arms against the state government’s move to allow homeopaths to prescribe allopathy medicines, but if the number of doctors registered annually across India is any indication, alternative medicine clearly dominates the scene.
Of the seven lakh doctors who register on an average in India every year, only 3-4% are allopaths. Ayurveds and homeopaths make up the largest chunk. There were nearly 13 Ayurveds and seven homeopaths registered in the country for every allopath who signed up with their respective medical councils in 2011, reveals an analysis of the latest data from the ministry of health and family welfare. In other words, there were over four lakh Ayurveds and two lakh homeopaths registered in India for 33,000-odd allopaths across the country.
This skewed nature of medical streams and the contentious issue of combined medical practice (those belonging to one stream practising another) have come to the fore yet again following the Maharashtra Cabinet’s decision on Thursday allowing homeopaths to prescribe allopathic medicines if they completed a one-year bridge course in pharmacology. The government cited shortage of doctors in rural areas for passing the decision.
In Maharashtra too, homeopaths and Ayurveds outstrip the number of allopaths being registered. While 53,159 homeopaths were registered in 2012, the number of new allopaths for that year was merely 4,864.
Ayurveda and unani practitioners are already allowed to prescribe allopathic medicines.
Allopaths feel all-India statistics reveal the government’s longstanding pro-AYUSH thrust at the cost of allopathic education. Dr Jayesh Lele, secretary of the Indian Medical Association’s Maharashtra chapter, said the numbers clearly showed the government’s failure to maintain a balance between various systems of medicine. "To promote them further, the government is now granting them backdoor entry into allopathy," said Dr Lele.
The Centre introduced AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) in 2003 as an integrated department to improve education and research in alternative medicine.
"If there are so many AYUSH doctors, how come the government has not been able to get them to manage primary health centres? Let the government find out how many homeopathy doctors actually stay on in rural areas," said Dr Lele.
However,practitioners of alternative medicine believe the figures strengthen their demand for combined practice. Dr Bahubali Shah of the Maharashtra State Council for Homeopathy said the statistics made it clear that it is AYUSH doctors who keep the medical system going. "In most hospitals in Mumbai, AYUSH doctors are housemen who are involved in taking actual care of patients," he said.
AYUSH doctors, he said, had for long prescribed allopathic medicines along with homeopathic pills. "Allopathy doctors are a small portion of the system, but sales of allopathic medicines far outstrip the sale of other medicines. Doesn’t this prove AYUSH doctors have for long been doing combined practice?" he asked. The state government is only acknowledging this and ensuring that homeopaths learn about allopathic medicines in the classrooms itself, he said.
The sanction for homeopathy doctors has come nearly three decades after they first applied for combined practice.Source
Times of India
11 Jan 2014,
by - Madhavi Rajadhyaksha & Malathy Iyer