Studies should be undertaken to validate and explore the complete potential of Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM), Finance Minister K. Anbazhagan said here on Thursday.

Many aspects of ISM had not been utilised completely and funding was essential to carry out research, he told the inaugural of Arogya 2010, the fair on ISM organised at Chennai Trade Centre.

It was satisfying that the Central government had enhanced funding for such systems as this would give Siddha, Yoga, Unani, Ayurveda, Naturopathy and Homoeopathy a fresh lease of life. Easy accessibility to treatment would govern people's choice of the system of medicine. So it was essential to project ISM in such a way that they were within the easy reach of people, he said.

Union Minister of State for Health S. Gandhiselvan said under the 11th Five year Plan, allocation for AYUSH had been stepped up to Rs.4000 crore. Also, Rs.750 crore had been allotted for medicinal plants alone.

Arogya fairs were being held across the country to spread awareness of ISM and Homoeopathy. There were a total of 7 lakh practitioners in the country, 3000 hospitals for ISM, 21,000 other small medical establishments, over 400 colleges and about 30,000 students passing out every year, he said.

State Health Minister M.R.K. Panneerselvam said traditional systems of medicine had acquired greater vibrancy in recent years as they were able to provide solutions to both infectious and non-communicable diseases. The State government was endeavouring to fill vacancies in ISM, including medical colleges. It was becoming increasingly obvious that allopathy alone could not take care of health requirements of the entire population, V.K. Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health, said.

S.K. Sharma, advisor (Ayurveda), AYUSH, said Tamil Nadu was a leader in promoting ISM in the country.

Naseem Ishaque, general manager, Indian Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), said affordability and accessibility were the factors that made ISM popular.

The fair is being organised jointly by the AYUSH Department of the Central Ministry, the State Indian Medicine and Homeopathy department and ITPO, according to Ramesh Kumar Khanna, Commissioner of the State department. The four-day exhibition will showcase the best in every ISM and Homoeopathy, apart from providing a platform for experts to focus on issues such as lifestyle disorders, geriatrics and hypertension.