in the healthcare sector should be filled. AYUSH doctors are trained in traditional Indian medicine practices such as Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy. While these traditional practices have their merits and can be beneficial for certain ailments, they should not be used as a replacement for allopathic medicine, which is based on scientific evidence and rigorous testing.
The National AYUSH Mission (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) was established in 2013 with the aim of promoting affordable and accessible healthcare in India, especially in rural areas. However, the mission has struggled to achieve its objectives due to a shortage of trained healthcare professionals and inadequate infrastructure.
One of the main challenges faced by the mission is the shortage of healthcare workers, including doctors, nurses, and allied healthcare workers. According to a 2017 mid-term evaluation of the mission, there are only 20.6 healthcare workers for every 10,000 people in India, which is less than half the number recommended by the World Health Organization. This shortage is particularly acute in rural areas, where many people have little or no access to quality healthcare.
In addition to the shortage of healthcare workers, there is also a lack of infrastructure and resources in rural areas. This is evident in the case of Vaviharsh and Deogaon, where the buildings meant to house health sub-centers are not in use. These sub-centers are meant to be the first point of contact between the community and the public health system, but without healthcare workers to man them, they are essentially useless.
To address these challenges, the government has proposed to include AYUSH services in primary healthcare, as per the National Health Policy of 2017. Ayurvedic practitioners have been allowed to practice allopathic medicine after undergoing a six-month training since 2017-18, and Unani practitioners were included, with additional training hours, in the list of eligible professionals in 2019.
While this may seem like a solution to the shortage of healthcare professionals, it has been criticized by experts who argue that it can lead to the dilution of traditional Indian medicine practices. Opening the doors to AYUSH doctors to practice allopathic medicine can derail and eventually finish Ayurveda, as mentioned in a 2018 paper by Shailaja Chandra, a former civil servant, and Kishor Patwardhan, a professor of Ayurvedic physiology.
Instead of relying on AYUSH doctors to fill the healthcare gaps, it is essential to focus on recruiting and training more allopathic doctors, nurses, and allied healthcare workers. This can be achieved by improving the conditions and facilities in rural areas, providing incentives and support to healthcare professionals working in these areas, and increasing funding for healthcare infrastructure and training programs.
In conclusion, while the National AYUSH Mission has the potential to improve healthcare access and quality in India, it is crucial to address the shortage of trained healthcare professionals and inadequate infrastructure in rural areas. Instead of relying on AYUSH doctors to fill the gaps, the focus should be on recruiting and training more allopathic doctors, nurses, and allied healthcare workers to ensure that all communities have access to good quality healthcare at affordable costs.