'If government thinks that they can reduce the shortage of surgeons available in rural areas by promoting mixopathy, then the consequences will be disastrous.'
The medical fraternity, practicing modern medicine, was in for a rude shock on November 20, when the Central Council of Indian Medicine, under the AYUSH ministry, issued a gazette notification allowing Ayurveda doctors with BAMS in their postgraduate education perform 58 surgeries related to the teeth, gallbladder, kidneys, intestines, ear-nose-throat, stomach, etc.
Soon after, protests erupted across India with MBBS doctors resorting to flash strikes and protests opposing the move, appealing to the Narendra Damodardas Modi government to withdraw the notification.
Continuing with their protests the Indian Medical Association, have called for a nationwide strike of doctors today, December 11, to pressurise the government to withdraw the notification.
"Ultimately, the patients' lives will be at a great risk; the government is doing it for short-term political gains and cheaper publicity. The ultimate sufferer will be the patient, not any government," Dr Jayesh Lele, the national general secretary of the Hospital Board of India, a wing of the IMA, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.
Why has the Indian Medical Association called for a nationwide strike on December 11?
A recent notification from the Central Council of Indian Medicine, which comes under the AYUSH ministry has issued a gazette notification allowing ayurvedic doctors the permission to conduct 58 surgeries.
These doctors will be certified fit to perform 58 surgeries on teeth, gallbladder, kidneys, intestines, ear-nose-throat, stomach, etc., after completing their Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS; a five and half year course) degree but without having the necessary qualifications that an MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, in India) doctor, who completes her/his MS (Masters in Surgery) after eight years of rigorous training and experience are allowed to do so currently.
Without proper training that MBBS and MS surgeons have, ayurvedic doctors performing these surgeries requiring high skills and deeper knowledge will prove disastrous not only for the patients undergoing treatment under these doctors, but it could also sully the image of Ayurveda globally.
Such surgeries will put many people at risk of their lives; ayurvedic doctors are not trained to perform surgeries that qualified, experienced and trained allopathic surgeons can.
The AYUSH ministry also plans to give MS degrees to ayurvedic doctors; that too violates lots of acts governing Indian medical education.
We want the central government to withdraw this notification. The Central Council of Indian Medicine, which regulates Ayurveda education in India, under the Indian Medicine central Council Act, 1970, does not have the authority to issue such a notification.
The government must use scientific temper and stop promoting mixopathy.
Ayurvedic doctors might have been performing surgeries till now, but this notification creates an impression that an an ayurveda doctor performing one of these surgeries is as competent and as skilled and trained as those who have done their MS.
This is misleading and will make people believe that an ayurveda doctor is as competent as the one who has done her/his MS, which is not the case.
If ayurvedic doctors, unqualified to perform surgeries, are allowed to do so then it should alarm the people, the patients, who will face the scalpels of these doctors. Why are allopathic doctors protesting against it?
People are yet to know the consequences of having ayurvedic doctors performing surgeries that only qualified and trained allopathic doctors and surgeons can do.
Half-cooked, half-baked doctors will play havoc with patients's lives.
Not all people who will go to these ayurvedic doctors, whenever they start performing surgeries, will know of the consequences.
What issues could patients, who get operated by ayurvedic doctors, face?
These doctors will be getting training only for two years. They will not be studying the basic MBBS but from BAMS they will directly go to study surgery.
Lot of these doctors who will go to study surgery directly, without doing their 4-5 year MBBS, will not be qualified enough to have the knowledge that general surgeons who do their MS after MBBS will have.
Naturally, these ayurvedic doctors will end up providing deficient services to their patients.
If the government thinks that they can reduce the shortage of surgeons available in rural areas by promoting mixopathy, then the consequences will be disastrous.
Why should the government allow inferior services to be availed by rural people in India?
Is it not the right of people in rural areas to get qualified doctors perform surgeries on them?
How can the MCI or the National Medical Commission (which regulates modern medicine in India) permit ayurveda surgeons, who are not fully qualified and have studied medicine just for two years before going on to study surgery perform complicated surgeries?
But then people living in rural areas do not get surgeons to operate upon them. Won't this system, at least, have ayurvedic doctors, who have studied surgery, perform operations on them?
If surgeries conducted by ayurvedic doctors lead to complications, then who will be responsible for them?
Of course, the government which is giving legitimacy to such a system will be responsible. But if what you are saying proves right then won't it politically backfire on the government. Still the government is going ahead with it...
Look, the government will do it for short-term political gain, but the patients, especially in rural areas, who will avail services of these doctors won't understand this immediately.
Ultimately, the patients' lives will be at a great risk; the government is doing it for short-term political gains and cheaper publicity. The ultimate sufferer will be the patient, not any government.
The government may get cheap short term-publicity, as you say, but won't it backfire upon them in the long run? Still the government is willing to take that risk.
Why do you think is the government not seeing the point that doctors like you are trying to make?
Why are only allopathic doctors and surgeons worried about the risks to patients' lives?
We are worried about the patients; we are not worried about the government.
Are you saying the government doesn't care for lives of patients who will go to ayurvedic doctors for their surgeries, and while doing so put their lives at risk, as contended by you?
Government is not at all bothered (about consequences of their acts); that's why they are allowing this mixopathy.
If patients start facing serious consequences after ayurveda doctors start performing surgeries on a large scale, won't it sully the good name of Ayurveda?
By doing so, the government will also kill Ayurveda in the long run. Don't you think so?
The government is doing it because it sees political benefit out of this move.
But won't it be short-term. In the long-run, if patients start facing serious consequences of such operations, the government will be exposed.
Don't you think the government must have also thought-through this scenario before issuing such a notification?
The government's plan, it seems, is to keep on expanding such services.
Today, they are allowing just 58 surgeries. After a few years they will add another 100 surgeries.
Tomorrow they will allow homeopathic doctors too to perform surgeries.
The political consequences will come later, but till then we will have to educate people. We have to make people aware that this will lead to a big problem for them in the future.
The Central Council of Indian Medicine does not have the power to issue a gazette notification and yet the government has allowed them to issue it.
The government, in all its right senses, should have opposed such a notification. The CCIM can't do it without the permission of the National Medical Commission. There is a legal issue in this as well.
Any allopathic course, when it is being prescribed, the NMC is the certifying authority. Now, without the permission of the NMC, the CCIM has issued a course, which it doesn't have the authority to carry out.
Are you planning any legal remedy?
IMA is planning to go to the courts; simultaneously, we are also education the people in rural areas, creating awareness among them, and the bandh is one way to make people see what dangers lie ahead for them as patients.