Staff Reporter

‘It should conform to WHO standards’

‘Draft policy still in an embryonic stage’

Expert says existing law has no teeth

KOLLAM: Sebastian Champapilly, Kerala High Court advocate, has stressed the need for evolving a comprehensive national policy on Ayurveda with a strong legal framework for its implementation.

Dr. Champapilly was presenting a paper on laws relating to the practice of Ayurveda at a seminar on the subject organised by the Ayurveda Medical Association of India here on Sunday.

He said a draft national policy on Ayurveda adopted in 2001 was still in an embryonic stage.

Unless the legal matrix was in tune with World Health Organisation standards, Ayurveda would never get the required global recognition, which was mandatory to tap the international market in the field of traditional and alternative medicine.

The practice of Ayurveda had not been duly regulated by proper enforcement of even the existing legal provisions. The existing law seemed to have no teeth.

While the law stipulated that persons without any recognised qualification and registration could not practise Ayurveda, its violation was not a cognisable offence. This enabled many of the violators to go scot-free with the payment of a paltry fine. Dr. Champapilly alleged political patronage behind this lacuna.

Traditional medicine had to be protected. But the practice of traditional medicine had to be regulated in the larger interests of society.

Traditional medicine

Dr. Champapilly said that China had a national policy for traditional medicine buttressed by a sound legal system that was broadly in conformity with the WHO guidelines. While the Chinese law protected Chinese traditional medicine, it did not take into its fold the traditional, or Paramparya, practitioners.

The law there regulated the practice of traditional medicine. This had played an important role for Chinese traditional medicine to remain in tune with WHO standards. South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore had also adopted similar laws for promoting their respective traditional medicines as an internationally recognised alternative medicine.

Legal support

This legal support had enabled the traditional medicine of those countries to get classified by the WHO in the group of countries having an integrative approach to traditional medicine. But India with much profound knowledge, practice and acceptance of its traditional medicine among its people stood clubbed with countries having only an inclusive approach to traditional medicine, Dr. Champapilly said.

The existing law being thoroughly inadequate and perhaps counterproductive, there was a need for comprehensive legislation for regulation, registration and standardisation, including quality control, in conformity with international trade rules, he suggested.

Legislation was required for protection from bio-piracy and protection of Intellectual Property Rights. For various reasons, a separate legislation dealing with the Indian System of Medicines would be more beneficial to Ayurveda for attainment of international recognition. Even the system of education should be revamped by creating universities under State or Central legislation. Research in Ayurveda should be brought under universities or special boards.

Dr. Champapilly suggested that for Ayurveda to attain a status equivalent to that of other systems of medicine, it was highly necessary to offer health insurance coverage for Ayurvedic treatment.

Even the draft national policy did not contain such a proposal.