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AYUSH – Exploring Frontiers in Healthcare

23 Jul 2021

Ayurveda and holistic healing have been an integral part of Indian culture and tradition. The methods and techniques prescribed in the classical books are eternal and contemporary, and have attracted the attention of a global audience.

The pandemic has increased our focus on immunity, health, and overall well-being, which resonates well with the Government’s focus on making Ayurveda and traditional medicines an important part of the national healthcare ecosystem. In November 2014, the Ministry of AYUSH was formed covering the branches of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy.

The AYUSH market stood at USD 10 billion in 2020 and is envisaged to grow by 50 percent in the coming 5 years.

In order to reach its full potential and find a place in the mainstream system of healthcare and medicine, Ayurveda must evolve and be included in Public Health, focusing on preventive and promotive aspects of healthcare.

In 2020, the Union Cabinet approved the inclusion of AYUSH health and wellness centres in the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. This progress is expected to establish a holistic wellness model for preventive, promotive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care.

CII’s efforts in promoting the AYUSH sector  

Through various initiatives comprising of knowledge building, advocacy for creating the right policy ecosystem where the sector can thrive, interaction with the Government and Industry and other key stakeholders, CII is trying to create a vibrant sector, mainstream Ayurveda in healthcare and strengthen India’s footprint in AYUSH in the domestic and international markets. CII aims to expand the market size for AYUSH by three-fold and contribute to building a global brand. Quality, technology, and exports are other objectives in the field.

To strengthen the AYUSH ecosystem, certain steps can help.

First of all, holistic, alternative healing is at the core of India’s social and cultural fabric, which has found its adoption and spread. At this stage, it is imperative that India retains the ownership and leadership position in Ayurveda, Yoga and other holistic medical treatment systems.

Ministry of AYUSH may drive a major communications campaign on the benefits of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy in enhancing immunity and the other benefits of the holistic approach.  

There needs to be an increase in the number of scientific studies conducted and documented, in order to highlight the efficacy of Ayurveda in mitigating the challenges of COVID-19. Research and validation studies should be initiated on Ayurveda classical approaches, which analyses a disorder on the basis of Tridoshas and initiates lifestyle, diet and medicinal interventions with an objective of restoring optimum health. Producing high quality research papers in a systematic and regular way would help in obtaining approval and acceptability for Ayurvedic treatments by governments across the world and build the brand for these products. The standards of research projects and publications could be upgraded, at par with international standards.

Also, the Government must invest more in the sector and develop a public private partnership model to provide a fillip to the sector.

It has been observed that Ayurvedic medicines and services have played a pivotal role in controlling the effects of COVID-19 in patients. It would be beneficial to set up Ayurveda wings in local clinics and the existing Ayurveda institutions can be upgraded with better infrastructure for this purpose.

The Ayurveda industry is faced with issues such as capital availability, funding requirements, challenges in employment and skill development for the industry. These need to be addressed for the industry to grow and reach its fullest potential.

A convergence and fusion of allopathic medicine and AYUSH treatment will help in getting the best from both the streams. This will contribute in giving rise to the concept of AYUMED, which will bring to the table a strong science from both sides.

Medical visas should be made available without delays, for curative and preventive treatments at AYUSH certified centres when medical travel is possible. Insurance schemes could be extended to the Ayurveda Wellness services.

Integration of technology in the Ayurveda curriculum will strengthen and modernise it. Students of the Ayurveda discipline could be exposed to a wide range of career choices and an inter-disciplinary nature of teaching will help in achieving this.

Setting up a National Network of Ayurveda start-ups with an incubation fund for entrepreneurs that provides access to technology and R&D would help in creating a vibrant start-up ecosystem in this sector.

Continued assessment of demand for commonly used medicinal plants needs to be undertaken with schemes and programmes to ensure that demand is met with sustainably sourced, fair traded, quality certified, legally accessed medicinal plants.

Finally, securing Intellectual Property (IP) attribution of Ayurveda to India would enable India attain the full economic benefits as the adoption of Ayurveda increases. This is an important consideration for this traditional system.

With such efforts, Ayurveda can be moved from alternative systems of medicine to the mainstream and institutionalizing AYUSH may help achieve an industry size of USD 10 billion.

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