New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is agitated with the Central Council of Indian Medicine’s (CCIM’s) decision to allow Ayurveda practitioners to perform surgeries. On Tuesday, the IMA demanded the withdrawal of a recently issued notification allowing Ayurveda students to do general surgeries like ophthalmology and dental procedures.
In a gazette notification issued on 19 November, the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) allowed Ayurvedic PG students to receive formal training to perform a variety of procedures, including general surgery, orthopaedic, ophthalmology, ENT, and dental procedures and surgeries. CCIM has amended Indian Medicine Central Council (PG Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016, to include the regulation to allow the PG students of Ayurveda to practice general surgery.
“The CCIM, with the previous sanction of the Central Government, hereby makes the following regulations further to amend the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016,” said the gazette notification.
The Act has been renamed Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Amendment Regulations, 2020. As per the notification, students will be trained in two streams of surgery and would be awarded titles of MS (Ayurveda) Shalya Tantra general surgery and MS (Ayurveda) Shalakya Tantra (disease of the eye, ear, nose, throat, head and orodentistry). After this development, the IMA slammed the CCIM and urged it to develop its own surgical disciplines from ancient texts and not claim surgical disciplines of modern medicine as its own.
Later, the AYUSH Ministry clarified that the notification was related to the Shalya and Shalakya streams of post-graduation education in Ayurveda. “The notification is specific to these specified surgical procedures and does not allow Shalya and Shalakya Postgraduates to take up any other types of surgery,” it added.
IMA president Dr Rajan Sharma told The Sunday Guardian that they have called an emergency meeting on 30 November regarding this matter.
“The day a girl or a boy decides to become a doctor, they tend to cut off contact with their family or social life and start preparing for NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test). Lakhs of students appear and only 80,000 pass the NEET. If Ayurveda students are allowed to do surgeries, NEET will lose its importance. If you see the mentioned surgeries, it is something very wrong. The way they have mentioned the procedure, we feel aghast. Also, who will teach them? ‘Mediocrisation’ of education cannot be tolerated. We are not against Ayurveda and other disciplines. Where are they going to get the equipment and drugs? They are poaching on modern medicine. They have created a double system,” Dr Rajan Sharma told The Sunday Guardian.
“At a time when we are reeling under a pandemic and when I have lost close to 700 doctors, such a move is highly derogatory and demoralising. Before Independence, the average age was around 28 years and if now it’s above 70 years, it’s due to the advancement in science. We are proud of our heritage, but we are also practical enough to realise that Sushruta did not invent all these things. These are recent inventions. A country that closes its eyes to scientific temperament and research is calling doomsday for its mankind. I hope they scrap this. They are aiming for integrated medicine. We have to go with the scientific temperament of the entire world. We are going to fight this tooth and nail,” Dr Rajan Sharma said.
However, P.N. Ranjit Kumar, Joint Secretary, AYUSH Ministry, told The Sunday Guardian that the health of the patients should be a priority in this ongoing health emergency due to Covid-19.
“Surgery is not an Ayurvedic term or allopathic term. Surgery is a technique. So, how the surgery is defined anywhere else, it is the same in Ayurveda too. All systems of medicines serve humanity. And the ongoing belief that there is a clash between Ayurveda and modern medicines is wrong. Ministry of Health and Ministry of AYUSH are the entities of the same body. All the recognised systems are serving the people and they all have strengths and they all have weaknesses. So, whoever is propagating this one vs other thing, there is no logic to it. Surgeries have been there in Ayurveda for quite some time. In 2016, it was decided that PG students should be taught surgeries. It was in the syllabus, but not in regulation. So, what was in the syllabus they repeated it in the notification,” Ranjit Kumar told The Sunday Guardian.
“All medicines are interrelated now in various platforms, including the digital space. The misunderstanding has been cleared with the clarification. I want to repeat that if an institution has any problem, they are welcome to bring it to the ministry and we will address it. As of now, there are no grievances or criticism regarding the notification that has come to the Ministry. If anyone takes it up, our Ministry is very proactive in dealing with issues of members of the public. So far, no opposition has come to the Ministry,” Kumar added.
On the clarification notice, the Joint Secretary said: “The clarification was issued because there were many issues taken up by different people and institutions and we examined all that and we found that there were three or four points; so those points we have answered. If you see the notification, there are 58 surgical procedures which are to be taught to the Ayurveda students and it also indirectly says that Ayurveda students are not supposed to do surgeries beyond this 58. So, it is setting a limit. Probably, initially, people misread it that some new law is coming and CCIM has already clarified it.”