Feb 7, 2015

IMA mulling action against physicians & establishments for hiring Ayush doctors to practice allopathy

Shardul Nautiyal, Mumbai
Friday, February 06, 2015, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
Based on its central council meeting in the last week of December, 2014 to initiate action against physicians and establishments found hiring homoeopaths and Ayurveda practitioners to fulfill allopathic functions, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) is scheduled to hold a National Body meeting on February 8, 2015 to take a final decision on the issue among others.

IMA had earlier issued directions to the 10,000 healthcare facilities and 2.5 lakh doctors for taking action against those physicians and establishments found hiring homoeopaths and Ayurveda practitioners to practice allopathy.

It has been given to understand that the system of employing those qualified to prescribe traditional cures in hospitals and clinics that specialise in allopathic healthcare has resulted in hundreds of medical negligence cases being filed against IMA members.

The IMA notification released in December last year stated, "Directions are being given to hospitals and doctors not to appoint Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) doctors as Resident Medical Officers (RMO)/Assistant. Strong action will be taken against those violating the directions". IMA could revoke the membership of a doctor or institution found flouting this directive outcasts will lose the support of IMA in battling medico-legal and malpractice cases.

Such hiring practices are prevalent primarily in government hospitals in rural areas, which retain the services of Ayush doctors owing to lack of qualified allopathic practitioners. The state government has also recently passed a bill which allows those practicing Ayurveda and Homoeopathy to practice allopathy upon completing a year-long bridge course called 'Certificate Course in Modern Pharmacology', designed by Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS), Nashik.

Many Indian courts have excoriated homeopaths and Ayurveda practitioners for prescribing allopathic medicines. In a 1996 case of medical negligence, in which a homoeopath's prescription of allopathic treatment to a man afflicted with typhoid resulted in the patient's death, the Supreme Court, which adjudicated, said: "A doctor must not only be qualified but he must also be registered with the appropriate Medical Council in order to practice as a doctor. A homoeopath would not have knowledge about allopathic medicines and its drug reactions. So the mere administration of allopathic treatment by a homoeopath would be enough proof to establish negligence."

However, those Ayush doctors that are the target of the IMA's ire point out that they are treating the poor in Primary Health Centres in rural areas for the past several years and legitimately carry it forward by doing a bridge course through MUHS. There are over 60,000 homoeopaths, 81,000 Ayurveda practitioners in Maharashtra, as against 1.21 lakh allopathic doctors.


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