Order allowing AYUSH practitioners to prescribe allopathic medicines withdrawn

September 08, 2020 11:33 pm | Updated 11:36 pm IST - Bengaluru

Three years after issuing an order allowing practitioners of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy) appointed at primary health centres (PHCs) of Karnataka to practise allopathy “during emergencies”, the Health and Family Welfare Department has taken a U-turn and withdrawn the permission.

The department issued an order on Monday withdrawing its earlier order, dated January 5, 2017. The old order was issued amid stiff opposition from Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) and Indian Medical Association (IMA), based on a green signal from a committee headed by the State Drugs Controller.

The committee had recommended that AYUSH practitioners at PHCs undergo a six-month crash course under senior doctors in district hospitals. The jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner-headed regulatory committees, set up under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act, should certify trained AYUSH practitioners, the panel said. Subsequently, it was also said that AYUSH practitioners could be trained through the Indira Gandhi National Open University or the jurisdictional district medical colleges.

While the training never took off, there was a demand from the State unit of the AYUSH Federation of India (AFI) to extend the same permission to private AYUSH practitioners as well, after training at their own cost. Around 2,000 of the nearly 25,000 AYUSH practitioners are working under the government.

However, the department, after studying various previous court orders, stated, “A harmonious reading of Section 15 of Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 and Section of the 1970 Act leads to the conclusion that there is no scope for a person enrolled on the State Register or Central Register of Indian medicine to practice modern scientific medicine in any of its branches unless that person is also enrolled on a State Medical Register within the meaning of the 1956 Act. Hence, the earlier order has been withdrawn.”

Opposition to new order

Opposing the new order, AFI members rushed to Bengaluru to meet Health Minister B. Sriramulu and appeal to him to reconsider the decision. “We are surprised by the department’s move. We wonder what is the motive behind withdrawing the permission now after three years, especially at a time when the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mohan Biradar, AFI State unit president.

N.A. Magadum, former AFI State unit president, said more than 2,000 AYUSH practitioners were working at PHCs and were on the frontlines of the COVID-19 battle. “The permission was accorded earlier as the government did not have adequate doctors in its PHCs and had posted AYUSH practitioners against the sanctioned posts of General Duty Medical Officers. The situation is no different now,” he said.

Integrated practice is legal in several States, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Uttarakhand, he said.

Welcoming the new order, IMA State secretary Srinivasa S., said the right to practise a system of medicine was derived from the Act under which a medical practitioner was registered.

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