FAQ: What Surgeries Are Ayurveda Docs Allowed to Perform? 

Health News
5 min read
FAQ: What Surgeries Are Ayurveda Docs Allowed to Perform? 

(The Indian Medical Association has called a nationwide protest today, Friday, 11 December, against the Centre’s controversial move to allow Ayurveda doctors to perform various surgeries. All medical services except COVID care units, ICUs and emergency services, will be affected. FIT is republishing this article in light of the current strike.)

In what is seen as a controversial move by some members of the medical community, the government has issued a notification that allows Ayurveda doctors to be trained and legally perform 58 surgeries ranging from dental procedures to opthamology.

“The Central Council of Indian Medicine, 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,” the gazette notification read.

Wait, What Did the Govt Say?

On Friday, 20 November, The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) issued a notification in its gazette that allowed post-graduate Ayurvedic practitioners to receive formal training for certain surgical procedures.

The CCIM is a statutory body that comes under the AYUSH Ministry. It’s role is to regulate Indian systems of medicine.

The notice mentioned that post-graduates from certain select streams of Ayurveda would be eligible to train for 39 general surgical procedures and 19 procedures involving the eye, ear, nose and throat. The PG practitioners need to be trained in all of these to be allowed to independently practice them after they complete their PG degree.

AYUSH Ministry Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha told PTI

“Only those specialised in Shalya and Shalakya are allowed to perform these surgical procedures. This notification is more of the nature of a clarification. It streamlines the existing regulation relating to post graduate education in Ayurveda with respect to the specified procedures.”
Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, AYUSH Ministry Secretary

The notification informed that the students will be trained in two streams of surgery and would be awarded titles of MS (Ayurved) Shalya Tantra -- (General Surgery and MS (Ayurved) Shalakya Tantra (Disease of Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat, Head and Oro-Dentistry, reported IANS.

This latest move by the Centre is an addition to the host of decisions taken amid the pandemic which shows an impending paradigm shift in healthcare from modern medicine to the traditional form.


Which Surgeries Are Allowed?

The notification allows Ayurveda doctors to train in and perform 58 surgeries.

These comprise of

  • 39 general surgical or ‘shalya' procedures
  • 19 procedures involving the eye, ear, nose and throat or 'shalakya' (diseases of ear, nose, throat, eye, head, oro-dentistry)

Is This a New Policy?

In simple terms, not really, although this notification has more clarity than ones of the past.

For starters, shalya and shalakya have always been independent departments in Ayurveda colleges that perform these surgeries. Earlier, a notification in 201 said that students should undergo training of the investigative procedures, techniques and surgical performance of procedures and management in the respective speciality but the details of these were up to the specific PG courses reported Live Mint.

This new notification essentially irons out these issues and brings the details into regulation. The AYUSH ministry clarified,

“The present clarification was issued in the overall public interest by CCIM by bringing the said details into the regulation. Hence this does not signify any policy shift.”
AYUSH Ministry

What do Modern Medicine Doctors Think?

The Indian Medical Association has been openly opposing such policy moves by the Centre, especially the plan to mix modern medicine with the traditional systems of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), in coming years, as envisaged by the Centre.

Dr Rajan Sharma, President, IMA had earlier stated that an integrative system of medicine would create a "Khichdi medical system" and would produce hybrid doctors.

The apex body of private practitioners of modern medicine had also condemned the centre's ambitious one nation one system policy in medical education and called it a cocktail of disaster.

The IMA stated that it saw this move as a retrograde step of mixing the systems which, it said, will be resisted at all costs.

"All over India, students and practitioners of modern medicine are agitated over this violation of mutual identity and respect," the IMA said.

It also urged the CCIM to develop its own surgical disciplines from its own ancient texts and not claim the surgical disciplines of modern medicine as its own.

“We unequivocally condemn the uncivil ways of the Central Council of Indian Medicine to arrogate itself to vivisect modern medicine and empower its practitioners with undeserving areas of practice. The said council has come out with a gazette notification of a list of surgical procedures which can be performed by its practitioners. They have no right to the technical terms, techniques and procedures of modern medicine. IMA draws the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ which they can cross at their peril.”
IMA statement

"What is the sanctity of the NEET if such lateral shortcuts are devised? IMA demands to withdraw the order and first delineate the Indian Medicine disciplines based on original Indian Medicine texts. The CCIM has the dubious reputation of prescribing modern medicine text books to its students. IMA exhorts the CCIM to develop its own surgical disciplines from its own ancient texts and not claim the surgical disciplines of modern medicine as its own. Such a deviant practice is unbecoming of a statutory body," the IMA added.

Besides, the IMA also informed that it has asked its members and the medical fraternity not to teach disciplines of modern medicine to the students of other systems. "IMA will resist all efforts to mix systems. Let every system grow on its own strength and purity," it added.

Others in the fraternity have expressed their concern on social media.

AYUSH Ministry Responds to Controversies

“It is, however, clarified that all scientific advances including standardised terminologies are inheritances of the entire mankind. No individual or group has monopoly over these terminologies. The modern terminologies in the field of medicine, are not modern from a temporal perspective, but are derived substantially from ancient languages like Greek, Latin and even Sanskrit, and later languages like Arabic,” said the statement from the AYUSH ministry.

To the notion of ‘mixing’ streams, they said,

“The question of “mixing” of Ayurveda with Conventional (Modern) Medicine does not arise here as CCIM is deeply committed to maintaining the authenticity of Indian systems of medicine, and is against any such mixing,” it added.?
AYUSH Ministry

Shift Away from Modern Healthcare to Traditional Healing?

A major concern for stakeholders in healthcare is that this move reveals the Centre’s shift away from modern medicine. Other moves like annulling the Medical Council of India to form National Medical Commission and introducing Commission for Allied and Healthcare Professions Bill, 2020, which allows assorted paramedics to practice medicine independently- are a few of the decisions which have put modern medicine practitioners in deep concern regarding their future of healthcare.

(With inputs from IANS)

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