Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review
(2001; 200 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsAfrica
Open this folder and view contentsThe Americas
Open this folder and view contentsEastern Mediterranean
Open this folder and view contentsEurope
Close this folderSouth-East Asia
View the documentBangladesh
View the documentBhutan
View the documentDemocratic People's Republic of Korea
View the documentIndia
View the documentIndonesia
View the documentMyanmar
View the documentNepal
View the documentSri Lanka
View the documentThailand
Open this folder and view contentsWestern Pacific
View the documentReferences
Open this folder and view contentsAnnex I. The European Union
 

India

Background information

For centuries, ayurveda, siddha, and unani systems of medicine have coexisted with yoga, naturopathy, and homeopathy (2). (See the Introduction for descriptions of ayurveda, unani, and homeopathy.)

Siddha (2) is one of the oldest systems of medicine in India. In Tamil, siddha means "perfection" and a siddha was a saintly figure who practised medicine. Siddha has close similarities to ayurveda, the difference between these two systems being more linguistic - Tamil versus Sanskrit - than doctrinal. In siddha, as in ayurveda, all objects in the universe, including the human body, are composed of the five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and sky.

Yoga (2) was propounded by Patanjali and is based upon observance of austerity, physical postures, breathing exercises, restraining of sense organs, contemplation, meditation, and samadhi.

Naturopathy (2) is a system of drugless treatment and a way of life. It is very close to ayurveda.

The introduction of allopathic medicine during the colonial period led to the Government's neglect of traditional medical systems. Now, however, ayurveda, unani, siddha, naturopathy, homeopathy, and yoga are well integrated into the national health care system (2). There are State hospitals and dispensaries for both traditional medicine and homeopathy; however, traditional medicine and homeopathy are not always well integrated with allopathic medicine, particularly in allopathic hospitals.

Statistics

Traditional medicine is widely used in India, especially in rural areas where 70% of the Indian population lives.

There are 2860 hospitals, with a total of 45 720 beds, providing traditional Indian systems of medicine and homeopathy in India. In 1998, more than 75% of these beds were occupied by patients receiving ayurvedic treatment, which is by far the most commonly practised form of traditional medicine in India. There are 22 100 dispensaries of traditional medicine (2). There are 587 536 registered traditional medicine practitioners and homeopaths, who are both institutionally and non-institutionally qualified (2).

Regulatory situation

Ayurveda, unani, siddha, naturopathy, homeopathy, and yoga are all recognized by the Government of India. The first step in granting this recognition was the creation of the Central Council of Indian Medicine Act of 1970 (2). The main mandates of the Central Council are as follows:

• to standardize training by prescribing minimum standards of education in traditional medicine, although not all traditional medicine practitioners and homeopaths need be institutionally trained to practice;

• to advise the central Government in matters relating to recognition/withdrawal of medical qualifications in traditional medicine in India;

• to maintain the central register of Indian medicine, revise the register from time to time, prescribe standards of professional conduct and etiquette, and develop a code of ethics to be observed by practitioners of traditional medicine in India. All traditional medicine practitioners and homeopaths must be registered to practice.

The Central Council of Homeopathy (2), constituted in 1973, has the same mandates. The Indian Government created the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy in March 1995 (2). The primary areas of work for the Department are education, standardization of medicines, enhancement of availability of raw materials, research and development, information dissemination, communication, and the involvement of traditional medicine and homeopathy in national health care. More than 4000 personnel work in these areas.

The Indian Government seeks the active and positive use of traditional medicine and homeopathy in national health programmes, family welfare programmes, and primary health care (2).

Education and training

Through the Central Council of Indian Medicine and the Central Council of Homeopathy, the Indian Government is working to standardize the training of traditional medicine practitioners and homeopaths (2). In support of this, seven national institutes are under the control of the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy:

• National Institute of Ayurveda: established in 1976, located in Jaïpur, offers a PhD MD in ayurveda;

• National Institute of Homeopathy: established in 1975, located in Calcutta, offers Bachelor's and MD degrees in homeopathy;

• National Institute of Naturopathy: established in 1984, located in Pune, offers talks in Hindi and Marathi and programmes for teachers and doctors;

• National Institute of Unani Medicine: established in 1984, located in Bangalore, offers postgraduate research opportunities in unani;

• National Institute of Postgraduate Teaching and Research in Ayurveda: located in New Delhi, offers PhD and MD degrees in ayurveda;

• National Academy of Ayurveda: established in 1988, located in New Delhi, offers a Degree of Membership Certificate in ayurveda;

• National Institute of Yoga: established in 1976, located in New Delhi, offers a one-year diploma in yoga.

An institution for siddha medicine is planned.

In addition to these national institutes, there are a number of facilities for medical education under the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine & Homeopathy (2):

Facilities

Ayurveda

Unani

Siddha

Homeopathy

Total

Undergraduate Colleges

154

32

2

118

305

Admission Capacity

6117

1239

155

4318

11829

Postgraduate Colleges

33

3

1

10

47

Admission Capacity

462

55

35

69

621

The health authorities review the qualifications of practitioners through the Central Council of Indian Medicine and the Central Council of Homeopathy, which can both determine whether these colleges and universities may continue to admit students.

Insurance coverage

Few people besides State employees have medical insurance, although this insurance does cover traditional medicine.

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