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    No progress in adopting Integrative Medical Practice in India

    Despite efforts made by the Union Ayush ministry to implement an Integrated Medical Practice (IMP) approach to bring traditional medicines and allopathy under one umbrella, the government institutions and private healthcare managements are unable to adopt the scheme in the absence of a set of guidelines for practice and research.

    “The Ayush ministry encourages the IMP approach which enables the whole traditional systems to be incorporated with the mainstream of healthcare. But, the ministry has so far not drafted the guidelines for IMP. Many private institutions have started centers for integrative
    medicines, but unable to proceed and conduct researches due to dearth of specific rules which are mandatory”, says Dr.Arul Amuthan, coordinator of the Center for Integrative Medicine and Research (CIMR), attached to Manipal University.

    The department of Ayush is interested to conduct researches on Ayush drugs (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is concerned about researches on allopathic medicines. Since no guideline is drafted to specify the area, neither Ayush nor ICMR is able to do integrative medicine research, which is a thrust area. Similarly, either of these institutions is not able to sanction grants for researches. So, the government must prepare the guidelines and set up a separate council for integrative medicines, for their practice, researches and education, he said.

    According to him, Manipal University has set up a Center for Integrative Medicine and Research, wherein a team of physicians from different medical systems sit together and prepare treatment protocols which are being prescribed for volunteer patients based on individual need. At present, the doctors are focusing on liver diseases, male infertility, urolithiasis (urinary stones) and cancer. The Integration is solely based on scientific evidence and CIMR is expecting that it can provide evidence based standard treatment guidelines for these diseases through IMP approach.

    Regarding the future scope of IMP approach, the coordinator of CIMR said, “No medical system is completely perfect to provide the best health care. When IMP is introduced, a single patient can receive the best therapy from multiple medical systems, which is called medical pluralism. Several researches are going on in all the streams of Ayush and authentic results are coming out every day. The demand for healthcare needs is increasing alarmingly. So, more than a scope, it is necessary to have IMP approach”, Dr.Amuthan said.

    He points out that if guidelines for IMP are not prepared or delayed, there will be practical difficulties in implementing the scheme although the authorities allow for the multiple methods of treatment. If a combined therapy is applied to a patient, which doctor will take the responsibility if any consequences occur, what are the drugs to be combined, what will be done if any side effect occurs to the patient, how to scientifically study the drug interactions..etc are the gray areas need to be specified. Until a set of rules for treatment are prepared, no doctor or institution can practice integrative medicine. So the ministry of Ayush should soon draft a set of rules for the IMP approach, he said.

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