Addressing Covid outbreak with clinical studies of Ayush systems: Ayush minister
It’s also studying impact of Ayush advocacies and Ayush measures for prevention of Covid-19 among the population, the minister said.Updated: May 25, 2020, 02:49 IST
The ministry of Ayush (ayurveda, yoga & naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) is also active in India’s fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19). In an interview, Ayush minister Shripad Yesso Naik talks about initiatives launched by his ministry and studies being carried out to generate scientific evidence in favour of ayurvedic herbs in the treatment of Covid-19.
How is the Ayush ministry contributing to managing the Covid-19 situation in the country?
The ministry of Ayush has taken several initiatives like research in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), public health institutes, and through its research councils and national institutes. It has also released health advisory vetted from Ayush experts toward immune boosting measures for protection against Covid-19. Also, there is a dedicated dashboard to provide real-time information on all Covid-19 related activities by the Ayush ministry.
There is some amount of skepticism among a section of people related to trying Ayush medicines either as prophylaxis or for treating Covid-19 symptoms. Is there any attempts being made to generate scientific evidence in support of traditional medicines?
The ministry is addressing Covid-19 pandemic problem through clinical studies (prophylactic, stand-alone and add-on interventions) of Ayush systems, and also studying the impact of Ayush-based prophylactic interventions in high-risk population. It’s also studying impact of Ayush advocacies and Ayush measures for prevention of Covid-19 among the population. The ministry has set up an interdisciplinary Ayush research and development task force with a group of experts to formulate and develop strategies for this initiative. In order to generate tangible evidence the ministry has also initiated collaborative clinical studies as a joint initiative of ministries of Ayush, health, and science & technology through CSIR with technical support of ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) for studying identified Ayurveda herbs as add on to hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19.
Also, various prophylactic, clinical and population-based survey studies have been initiated to address the challenge of Covid-19. The ministry has invited research proposals through a dedicated website portal for Covid-19, which were thoroughly screened by a screening committee and the task force to identify and study best possible leads.
In the past, certain preventive advisories against Covid-19 were issued by the Ayush ministry that had mentioned some medicines for it, but were later withdrawn after it was criticized as the disease currently has no cure. Will you clarify?
The Ayush ministry’s advisory suggested immune boosting measures and certain symptomatic management with a disclaimer that this was not the treatment or cure of Coviod-19, and it was not withdrawn and is still available online. Further immune boosting advisories with daily used spices, herbs and lifestyle have been released so maximum public could benefit.
Since everyone is talking about adopting a new normal in the post Covid-19 world, including in medical practice, how do you see things changing for practicing alternative systems of medicine?
There has been a paradigm shift from the disease: cure-oriented medical practices toward health-oriented health- care services where people are becoming more and more aware toward prevention of disease and salutogenesis (medical approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being) that is making the body strong and with improved immunity so to have a healthy life. Post Covid-19. I believe this will further strengthen. Ayush has a major role to play in this as its main objective is to maintain health of the healthy and prevent the disease.
Now that Aatmanirbharta is the buzz word in almost all spheres, what are the focus areas for the Ayush ministry towards promoting be self-reliance?
Aatmanirbharta is certainly important for us and the best way toward making a stronger, healthier and better India. With its introduction in Ayushman Bharat and initiation of health and wellness centres, it will certainly be achieved in near future. We are also committed in propagating advocacies on healthy lifestyle and use of common herbs etc of Ayush systems, yoga, pranayam etc. among masses to make a better Aatmanirbhar (in terms of health) India.
Ayush medicines have a market outside India but still lag behind in comparison to the Chinese traditional medicine market. How do you plan to promote brand make-in-India?
Ministry of Ayush has taken several initiatives to bring Ayush on a global platform, and to improve its market like establishment of Forum for Indian Traditional Medicine at Research & Information System for developing countries ( an international agency which specializes in the issues related to international economic development, trade, investment and technology and is an autonomous body set under the administrative control of external affairs ministry). Also, there are two voluntary certification schemes for ayurveda products developed by the ministry-- certification scheme of Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body, and certificate of pharmaceutical products for ayurveda products issued by Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for the purpose of export. QCI scheme provides two kinds of certificates: Ayush standards mark for Ayurveda products complying with domestic regulations, and Ayush premium mark for products complying with international norms. The ministry, along with commerce ministry, is also organizing International Arogya to promote the Indian system of medicine at a global level, and develop strategic partnership in the field of medical and integrated health-care sector between India and other countries. The ministry is also working in collaboration with Ernst and Young for the promotion of investment and ease of doing business in Ayush sector.
The worldwide herbal market products are around $6.2 billion and estimated to reach $5 trillion by the year 2050. Currently, the demand for traditional Indian herbal products or Ayurveda has increased tremendously in India as well as at the international level with rising awareness about health and fitness and changing lifestyle. We are working to strengthen it.