IMA questions health minister releasing Ayush-based Covid-19 management protocol

Updated on Oct 09, 2020 08:58 AM IST

The association asked the minister how many of his ministerial colleagues had so far made the informed choice of getting treated under these protocols, and what was stopping him from handing over Covid-19 care and control to the Ayush ministry

Union Minister for Health Harsh Vardhan.(PTI File)
Union Minister for Health Harsh Vardhan.(PTI File)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The Union health and science minister Harsh Vardhan releasing Ayush (ayurveda yoga and naturopathy unani siddha and homoeopathy)-based clinical management protocol to treat coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients has not gone down well with the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The association on Thursday pointedly asked whether the proponents of this claim and his ministry were prepared to subject themselves as volunteers to an independent prospective double-blind control study in prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the health and science minister had released the National Clinical Management Protocol for prevention and treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 cases based on alternative therapies.

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The largest body of private practitioners in the field of allopathy also asked the minister if there was satisfactory evidence regarding the claims made based on studies done on Covid-19 patients; and if so, whether the evidence was weak or moderate or strong. The evidence should be in public domain and available for scientific scrutiny, they said.

“How many of his ministerial colleagues have so far made the informed choice of getting treated under these protocols? What is stopping him from handing over Covid-19 care and control to the Ayush ministry?” were the other questions IMA asked the minister.

IMA said that science demanded reproducibility of a claim elsewhere in non-conflict situations, and double blind control studies.

“…He admits that these are based on empirical evidence which means that the evidence is anecdotal and based on individual subjective experiences. He himself refers to Ayush as historical forms of treatment rather than current ones, by saying Ayurveda has contributed to foundation of modern medicine. IMA demands that the Union health minister come clean... If not, he is inflicting fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos drugs,” the members said in a statement.

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IMA currently has 1,746 branches functional in different states across the country.

“We have written an open letter to the health minister, and he has to answer to the people of India. He is the health minister, not the Ayush minister. What is the credibility of the document he has given? They have used words like ‘informed choice’ and ‘empirical evidence’ but these are quite vague. There is a risk of mixing systems during treatment—who will be answerable? We are in the middle of a pandemic, and trying to save lives. This is a serious issue,” said Dr RV Asokan, honorary secretary general, IMA.

The officials in the health ministry said that the protocol was meant for treatment in Ayush hospitals.

“This is a reference point for doctors in Ayush hospitals and Ayush practitioners treating Covid-19 patients,” said a health ministry official, requesting anonymity.

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    Rhythma Kaul works as an assistant editor at Hindustan Times. She covers health and related topics, including ministry of health and family welfare, government of India.

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