In health sector, India has made enormous strides over the past decades. The life expectancy has crossed 67 years, infant and under-five mortality rates are declining as is the rate of disease incidence. Many diseases, such as polio, guinea worm disease, yaws, and tetanus, have been eradicated.
The public health-care infrastructure in rural areas has been developed as a three-tier system based on the population norms. It includes:
Alternative medical systems are entire systems of health theory and practice (including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, naturopathy, and homeopathy) that developed separately from conventional medicine. These systems typically use a variety of methods that fall under the CAM umbrella.
The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (abbreviated as AYUSH) is purposed with developing education, research and propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems in India. Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), will now be known as the Ministry of Ayush. The Ministry of Ayush includes the seven traditional systems of healthcare.
In 2016, World Health Organisation (WHO) published an eye-opening account of the incompetent health workforce of India based on the 2001 Indian census. According to WHO, the ideal doctor-patient ratio is 1:1000, whereas in India it is 1:1674. Furthermore, the report highlights the poor educational and medical background of the healthcare professionals in India - in allopathy, only 31.4% of allopathic doctors are educated up to the secondary level, and around 57.3% among them did not have any medical eligibility. In urban areas, only 58.4% of allopathic doctors had a valid medical qualification and this percentage was as low as 18.8% in the rural areas.
According to the Medical Council of India (MCI), the total number of medical practitioners in India was 9.32 lakh (as of September 30, 2014). However, the number of AYUSH doctors practising traditional medicine in the country is around 6.8 lakh, which is quite impressive.
he National Rural Health Mission (now known as National Health Mission) has recommended to mainstream the AYUSH system of indigenous medicine. Mainstreaming basically refers to the process of integrating AYUSH system of medicine with the existing health system in the country, at all levels of health care so that preventive, promotive and rehabilitative health care services can be offered to all sections of society.
he National Health Policy (NHP), 2017 has strongly advocated mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH within a pluralistic system of Integrative healthcare. The NHP, 2017 uses a new language of ‘medical pluralism’ and reemphasizes the need for integrating AYUSH in the National Health Mission, research and education
integrating AYUSH with accredited social health activists (ASHA) workers by training them on relevant aspects of AYUSH; implementing initiatives for ensuring availability of AYUSH drugs at all levels; strengthening quality control mechanism in laboratories to avoid manufacture and sale of counterfeit and substandard drugs
Launch of e- AUSHADHI portal by Ministry of AYUSH is the landmark for promoting and consolidation of alternative medicine system in India as it helps in licensing of ayurveda, siddha, unani, and homeopathy drugs and related matters and also maintain transparency, improved information management facility and data usability.
The 4th Common Review Mission Report, 2010 of the National Health Mission, brought to light a significant find - various states across India including Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand had deployed AYUSH practitioners as medical officers in public health centres (PHCs). In the present times, the fundamental aspects of holistic systems are not appropriately positioned in most of the clinical trials designed to examine the safety and efficacy of AYUSH therapies/ approaches.
The alternative medicine system in recent time shown up ample amount of growth due to its advantages, not only in India but also in many other countries
The role of Alternative medicine system in public health is inevitable to an extent but some limitations were also applicable due to their disadvantages and given unproven/ limited scientific data which raise major concern. But the statistical data provides that people in recent days resorting to natural and herbal medicinal system to avoid conventional medicine and their side effects. This shows a positive side in alternative medicine system. Institutional support such as R&D, more financial and infrastructural assistance along with awareness can help out alternative medicine to best suitable for public health.
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