To allow Ayush doctors to practise modern medicine

Allopathic doctors across the country have raised serious objection and apprehension over the latest move of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry which has suggested that doctors under the Indian System of Medicine (ISM) should be allowed to practice modern medicine.

Citing acute shortage of allopathic doctors for primary health centres and sub-centres as a major hurdle in making the health care mechanism more effective, a letter by the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry Joint Secretary Dr. Vishwas Mehta said: “One of the option that has been under consideration of the Government to mitigate such shortage is the integration of the ISM qualified doctors in the mainstream and pool in 7 lakh such doctors available in the country with allopathic doctors to enhance the availability of doctors and outreach of health care services.”

He further noted that the Department of Ayush has taken an in-principal approval to empower ISM qualified doctors to practice modern system of medicine in a limited way and constituted a committee to examine the issue.

Alarmed at the suggestion from the Union Health Ministry, doctors across the country have called the move “illegal”. “Are the lives and health of the common people of India so cheap that someone with half-baked knowledge should be allowed to prescribe medicines for cure just because there is a shortage of qualified allopathic doctors in India? Through this move the Government is actually encouraging quackery and endangering the lives and health of its people,” said Delhi Medical Association member Dr. Anil Bansal.

Delhi Medical Council secretary Dr. Girish Tyagi said: “The letter by the Ministry has noted that according to the direction of the Supreme Court (in the case of Dr. Mukhtiyar Chand versus State of Punjab) an ISM qualified person can practice modern system of medicine provided such professionals are enrolled in the State medical register for practitioners of modern medicine maintained by the State medical council.”

“We just want to note that as per the Medical Council of India rules only allopathic doctors can be part of the registry. So we suggest that ISM doctors study allopathic medicine from a government recognised college and enrol themselves with the State council, we would then have no problem,” added Dr. Tyagi.

The Ministry, however, has recommended that laws prevailing in the States relating to registration of allopathic doctors may be amended to provide a provision allowing the enrolment of ISM professionals in the State.

“The Department of Ayush has also been requested by the Union Health Ministry to get a draft curriculum prepared which would provide competency to a ISM professional to practice preventive, curative and rehabilitative allopathic medicine in respect to the commonly encountered health problems and get it vetted by the MCI,” noted Dr. Mehta.