Ayurvedic doctors can now do surgeries
The procedures, including removal of appendix and gall bladder, excision of benign tumours, amputation of gangrene and dental root canal, can be conducted after receiving proper training.
The decision notified by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) after receiving sanctions from the central government has drawn flak from the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which described the move as equivalent to “corrupting the entire health system of the country”.
Those pursuing an MS (Ayurveda) Shalya Tantra (general surgery) will be trained in 39 types of procedures, whereas PG students pursuing MS (Ayurveda) Shalakya Tantra (diseases of eye, ear, nose, throat, head and oro-dentistry) will get training in 19 other procedures. Once they receive the degrees, they can perform these procedures independently.
The surgical procedures in which Ayurveda practitioners will be receiving training include excision of a simple cyst, all types of skin grafting, ear lobe repair, all kinds of suturing, removal of metallic and non-metallic foreign bodies from non-vital organs, operation for anal fistula and cataract operations, besides multiple urological procedures.
The IMA, India’s most prominent association of doctors, condemned the notification, describing the move as retrograde. “Such mixing of the systems will be resisted at all costs. All over India, students and practitioners of modern medicine are agitated over the violation of mutual identity and respect. What is the sanctity of NEET if such shortcuts are devised.”
Other public health experts, however, are not so dismissive of the move. “If they are trained well, they can play a bigger role in the public health system. But it’s a short-term measure, and a change of medical education is required for the integration of two systems,” commented public health specialist Meenakshi Gautam, a research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Such surgical innovations, pointed out Gautham, were in practice in several African countries that experienced a shortage in the number of surgeons.
The notification comes when many states witness a severe shortage of specialist surgeons in rural areas and small towns. In 2015 health statistics report by the Health Ministry showed that 74,6% of posts of surgeons are vacant in community health centres all over the country.