The COVID-19 epidemic has become a major public health issue. In many sections of the country, the burden of sickness and death is continuously rising. Several social and economic factors have resulted in disastrous outcomes. Effective infection control is still being developed, and efforts are being made to blend traditional therapies with mainstream care. In this regard, India’s AYUSH system of medicine is being used to offer treatment and reduce certain COVID-19 symptoms. The AYUSH method is not intended to be a cure; rather, it is used to treat asymptomatic and mild instances of COVID-19 as well as to provide prophylactic (preventive) therapy. Nonetheless, during a pandemic, the role of AYUSH is critical.
What is AYUSH?
- Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy are the acronyms for Ayurveda, Yoga, and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy, all of which are founded on traditional medicinal theories. They reflect a healthy way of life based on well-established ideas for illness prevention and health promotion.
- The Ministry of Ayush integrated Sowa Rigpa in the AYUSH system in 2015.
- The AYUSH system has the following advantages: o It is typically inexpensive and accessible; AYUSH medications have less negative effects than contemporary medicine.
- It has been shown to be useful in the treatment of lifestyle disorders such as diabetes and hypertension.
- It is used to provide healthcare in rural hinterlands where there is a shortage of allopathic doctors.
Institutional Framework for AYUSH :-
- The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy (AYUSH) is at the pinnacle. It promotes and disseminates Indian medical systems and homoeopathy.
- The National Medicinal Plants Board (NMPB) organises efforts for the growth of the medicinal plant industry, including conservation, cultivation, marketing, export, and policymaking.
- There are two statutory regulating bodies: the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and the Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH). They are in charge of establishing minimum educational criteria, advocating the recognition of medical qualifications, registering practitioners, and establishing ethical guidelines. Officially financed research activities are carried out by five research councils.
- There are 11 National Institutes in the nation that teach the AYUSH system. The National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur, the National Institute of Siddha in Chennai, the National Institute of Naturopathy in Pune, and others are among them.
- Official formularies/pharmacopoeias are prepared by four separate Pharmacopoeia Committees.
Role of AYUSH medicines used during pandemic :-
During the epidemic, the use of AYUSH medicines grew considerably. During the pandemic, the following AYUSH medications and procedures were used:
- Ayush-64: The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences created this Ayurvedic medicine (CCRAS). It is the Ministry of Ayush’s apex body for Ayurvedic research.
- The medication was first created in 1980 to treat Malaria. It’s presently employed in Covid-19 because its components include antiviral, immune-modulating, and antipyretic (fever-fighting) capabilities.
- Kabasura Kudineer : is a Siddha medication that is used to cure fevers. It’s presently being used to treat four instances of COVID-19 infection that are asymptomatic, mild, or moderate.
- Because this virus has a negative impact on the immune system, it boosts immunity and works as an immune modulator.
- Habb-e-Bukhar is a Unani medicine used to treat Covid-19 patients who have a high fever.
- Arsenicum album is a homoeopathic medicine that is used to treat inflammation in the body. It treats diarrhoea, coughs, and colds.
- It’s suggested for usage as a prophylactic (preventive) measure against Covid-19. It has also been reported to be effective in the treatment of mucormycosis (fungal infection).
- Yogic Protocols: These are employed in Covid-19 treatment centres to increase respiratory and heart efficiency, as well as to reduce stress and anxiety and boost immunity. Pranayama, Shavasana, and other asanas are highly effective in this aspect.
Challenges faced by AYUSH medicines and practitioners :-
- The battle with allopathic medicine: Many allopathic doctors are sceptical of the conventional medical system.
- They doubt AYUSH practitioners’ integrity and oppose their integration into the contemporary health-care system. The Indian Medical Association, for example, has protested to a recent gazette notification issued by the 5 Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM).
- It permitted Ayurvedic postgraduate doctors to undertake 58 basic operations.
- Lack of Validation: Despite committed government funding, scientific validation of AYUSH treatments has not developed.
- There are just a few AYUSH therapies that have been proven to work in well-designed randomised controlled studies (RCTs).
- Practitioners of Poor Quality: Ayurvedic graduation and postgraduate courses are frequently inadequate and of poor quality, resulting in practitioners of poor quality.
- Most AYUSH institutes would be forced to close if they were held to the same exacting standards as MBBS medical schools.
- Overuse of AYUSH medicine: To escape regulation, they are offered as over-the-counter medications and nutraceuticals. Furthermore, unlike pharmacies providing contemporary medicine, Ayurvedic shops do not require a pharmacist to distribute the drugs.
- This results in increased consumption and self-medication.
- Excessive intake of herbal remedies has resulted in countless cases of fatal liver failure and irreparable organ damage.
Suggestions to improve the role of AYUSH :-
- To begin, AYUSH practitioners should follow the WHO, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and Ministry of AYUSH’s directives as they are released from time to time.
- In order to provide adequate therapy, they need adapt their advise to changing requirements.
- Second, the data from the AYUSH sanjivani app must be analysed and evaluated on a regular basis in order to include or exclude the use of traditional medicines in the fight against the pandemic.
- Sanjivani is a smartphone app that evaluates the effectiveness, acceptability, and use of several AYUSH advice.
- Finally, in order to be regarded as real drugs in today’s world, AYUSH medicines should be subjected to rigorous testing.
- Fourth, governments must abandon their unduly permissive approach to AYUSH instruction and practise. They should hold them to the same high standards and regulations that contemporary medical practitioners are held to.
- Fifth, to satisfy India’s primary care requirements, the government should focus on developing the capacity of certified AYUSH practitioners through bridge training.
- Finally, cross-pathy between traditional and contemporary systems should be permitted to fill up the gaps in each system. However, this should only be done after extensive consultation with professionals from the relevant systems.
- Finally, every formulation of AYUSH medication should include a label stating its components, side effects, and other critical information, as is mandated for contemporary medicines, which may then be posted on hundreds of AYUSH stores around the country.
The pandemic has shown us that no one health-care system can adequately address all of contemporary society’s health demands. A comprehensive and integrated health-care system is required to guide future health-care policies and services. Medical pluralism is here to stay, and the AYUSH sector’s position in the current and growing scenario is important.