Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) - the traditional systems of medicine play a crucial role in public health in India. The AYUSH system has more importance in management of lifestyle related chronic conditions which are a growing threat to public health in our country.
It has been five (5) years since the Ministry of AYUSH was formed and worked towards popularizing alternative system of medicine in the country. In a process to streamline the AYUSH systems, the Ministry has prepared a robust and all-encompassing structure and projected seven broad activities, namely:
- Improving Access to AYUSH Healthcare,
- Promoting AYUSH Research,
- AYUSH Education,
- AYUSH Drugs and related matters,
- Creation of Awareness,
- Efforts for Globalizations of AYUSH Systems, and
- Induction of IT into the AYUSH Sector.
In year 2019, the ministry continued its efforts to mainstream the AYUSH systems and has covered these seven (7) broad activities and achieved considerable success in the same1 :
1. Improving Access to AYUSH Healthcare: The central government launched "National AYUSH Mission (NAM)" as a prime scheme for promoting access to AYUSH Healthcare, the scheme supports State/UTs Governments for the development of AYUSH healthcare. Under this scheme the Ministry has;
- operationalized 10% of the Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs) under Ayushman Bharat Scheme through State / UT Governments,
- provided grant-in-aid of Rs. 89.92 crore to 1,032 AYUSH Dispensaries under NAM,
- co-located 7620 PHCs, 2758 CHCs and 495 DHs with AYUSH facilities in different parts of the country,
- provided financial assistance for setting up of 91 up to 50 beds integrated AYUSH hospitals including 6 such hospitals assisted in the current year,
- supported 190 nurseries throughout the country for cultivation, distribution of quality medicinal plants,
- approved establishment of the National Institute for Sowa-Rigpa in Leh. Sowa-Rigpa is a traditional medical system of the Himalayan belt in India.
2. Promotion of Research Activities in the AYUSH Systems: The Central Councils of Research dedicated to AYUSH systems are to be the mainstay of AYUSH Research. In year 2019:
- The Central Research Councils of Ayurveda, Unani, Homoeopathy and Siddha together validated 140 classical medicines for 70 conditions by generating evidence on clinical safety and efficacy.
- The Ministry inaugurated National Research Institute of Unani Medicine for Skin Disorders, at Erragadda, Hyderabad.
- The Ministry inaugurated the Siddha Clinical Research Unit and Unani Medical Centre in Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi for integrative medical research.
- The Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) successfully completed studies on Brain Fever (Encephalitis) in endemic area of Gorakhpur.
3. AYUSH Education: The Ministry succeeded in steering the AYUSH education sector along a path of growth and modernization during 2019 with comprehensive implementation of the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) and a streamlined All India Post Graduate Entrance Test (AIPGET) for admission into Undergraduate and Post Graduate courses respectively.
4. AYUSH Drugs Policy and related matters: Regulation of AYUSH system in country for ensuring safety and efficacy of AYUSH drugs was one of the major focus during the year, with following achievements:
- A system for AYUSH Drug Control was formalized with the notifying 9 regulatory posts marking it one of the biggest achievements.
- E-Aushadhi Portal for online license applications was strengthened by getting the State Licensing Authorities on-boarded.
- AYUSH Medicines were included in the Jan Aushadi scheme. Essential Drug List of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani & Homoeopathy was updated and revised.
- Pharmacovigilance for ASU&H drugs: 63 PPvCs have been established under one National and five Intermediary Centres. Reporting of adverse events caused due to consumption of ASU&H drugs started from January 2019 and nearly 250 cases of adverse effects of ASU&H drugs were reported in October 2019.
- Surveillance of misleading advertisements in the print and electronic media was intensified during the year.
- The Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy (PCIM&H), Ghaziabad, an autonomous organization under the Ministry of AYUSH, continued its efforts to refine the AYUSH Pharmacopoeias.
5. Creation of awareness about AYUSH Systems: One of the biggest achievements in this regard was the successful conduct of the International Day of Yoga (IDY) 2019. Further, nearly 100 Seminars and Workshops for public and 50 patient education camps were held in different parts of the country on preventive and promotive aspects of AYUSH Healthcare by the Ministry and its autonomous bodies.
6. Globalization of AYUSH Systems: The Ministry of AYUSH has signed many MoUs at national & international levels. As a result, a landmark was achieved between the world's two largest Traditional Medicine Administrations - India and China. Further, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) signed MoUs with international institutions such as College of Medicine, UK; Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, USA; Frankfurt Biotechnology Innovation Center, Frankfurt, Germany and Western Sydney University (WSU), Australia.
7. Induction of IT into AYUSH Sector: During the year the Ministry was able to implement many significant digital transformations including:
- Up-scaling of AYUSH-Health Information System by covering all the Central Research Councils.
- Set-up of Monitoring Dashboard broadly covering all activities of the Ministry,
- Created Portals dedicated to IDY 2019 and Pharmacopia Commission,
- Standardised Terminologies were codified for AYUSH systems under International Classification of Diseases (ICD) of the WHO. This would further pave the way for the globalisation of these systems,
- Launched Yoga locator mobile app to support the public in finding nearby locations for Yoga training.
AYUSH Ministry has made many achievements during 2019 in all seven projected activities. However the ministry hoping to streamline Aayush system of medicine in country before aiming to globalize the system in coming year.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.