The recent withdrawal of the order allowing BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) students to train in Gynaecology and Obstetrics in government hospitals has sparked protests statewide in Kerala, from Ayurveda students and practitioners.

Since 1979, the Central Council of Indian Medicines (CCIM) had made it mandatory for BAMS students to undergo a short, 15-day training in surgery and gynaecology as part of their graduation requirements and a 30-day training during house surgency. An order was passed as recently as December 2014 to offer this training in government allopathic hospitals.

The move to rescind this order comes following pressure from the state unit of the powerful Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the state government’s decision to give in to this pressure is most unfair to BAMS students as it throws their future off track. This denial of required training could even pose a threat to the recognition of Ayurveda Colleges and has the entire sector up in arms, and the AMA (Ayurveda Medical Association) has warned of upcoming agitations statewide.

Medical training for Ayurveda students is incomplete without exposure to basic surgery and labour rooms and since Ayurvedic hospitals often do not have this facility, it is the responsibility of the government to allow them to make use of the facilities in allopathic hospitals.

The IMA’s stand regarding the whole issue is that by undergoing training in allopathic medical facilities and procedure, Ayurveda is encroaching upon the specialties of modern medicine and those who wish to make use of these facilities should pursue a course in MBBS as opposed to alternative medicines.

At a time when the government is busy promoting Ayurveda as a reliable alternative medical option, setting up a peak facility along the lines of the AIIMS, endorsing it for treating serious ailments such as H1N1 and Rheumatoid Arthritis, and encouraging scientific research into ayurvedic therapies and medicines, both streams being at loggerheads is a step backwards. The best option at this juncture would be for the government to help forge a symbiotic bond between the two, which will have the best interests of the patient at heart and provide the required care.

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