Rajya Sabha

July 15, 2019

Dr Santanu Sen speaks during a discussion on the working of the Ministry of AYUSH

Dr Santanu Sen speaks during a discussion on the working of the Ministry of AYUSH


Thank you very much, Sir. I draw the kind attention of the Hon’ble Minister, through you. I would like to thank the Chair for giving importance to four ministries.

My humble submission will be that you should look into the fact that two ministries can be completed in this session and rest two in the coming session, so that all four ministries can be covered in 2019. Sir, it is really good to see that we are getting the ministerial budget approved by the Standing Committee, which is really a good practice. As a Member of Parliament, it seems to me that sometimes it is a fight between the NDA and the UPA. But to me, it is not a fight between the NDA and the UPA but a question of glorying, a question of the heritage of Parliament.

Sir, as I have already said earlier during my previous speeches, the hard reality is that the present Government has already made a record of bringing Ordinances. You have to appreciate that from the year 1993 to 2003, almost all Bills used to be scrutinised. For the period from 2004 to 2014, the number came down. Between 2018  and 2019, the situation has become worse, we have to admit.

Now let us come to the main point regarding AYUSH. Sir, as you know, the AYUSH Ministry was formed in 2014. What was the idea of formation of the Ministry? Principally, the idea was policy formulation, implementation of programmes and propagation of AYUSH systems of healthcare.

 Sir, if you go by the National Sample Survey, you will see that five to seven per cent of the population of the entire country go for treatment using AYUSH systems and most surprisingly, urban people (both men and women) take more advantage of AYUSH than rural people. 

Sir, how it was regulated? Initially it was regulated by the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 based on which Central Council of Indian Medicine was formed and Homeopathy Central Act 1973 based on which  Central Council of Homeopathy was formed. Later on, Niti Aayog which replace the Planning Commission, have some idea in their mind and they put forward certain observations.

  1. Lack of qualified persons regulating AYUSH; 
  2. Substandard curriculum of doctors; 
  3. Worrying standards of undergraduate and postgraduate levels;
  4. Absence of transparency in the process of inspection and in the process of sanctioning grants; and,
  5. Low quality of teaching and training staff skills. 

They noticed there was a conflict of interest, doctors regulating doctors and those who were on the chair of regulators, many of them used to have their own institutions. So, of course there was a conflict of interest, Sir.

Now there was some recommendations of certain committees. The regulators should be appointed through an independent and transparent selection process like search committee.

Sir, it was later on realised though there were five systems in AYUSH but there were only two regulatory bodies – CCIM and CCH. So it was proposed five independent autonomous bodies should exist to regulate these five systems of AYUSH.

Sir, so far the admission system is concerned; it was expected to be on merit basis and common all-India examination. But the hard reality is it has not been implemented till date. So far my knowledge goes the capitation fees while getting admission in several AYUSH institutions and medical colleges vary like anything in several states, Sir.

 Sir, National AYUSH Mission, NAM, was notified in the year 2014. The idea was, to increase the number of AYUSH hospitals and dispensaries across the country based on the population of the particular states. The approached target was 11750 primary health center, community health center and district hospitals (per year) to be catered. But the hard reality is if you go by the result of 2017-18 it was only 4555, much below even the 50% of the target, Sir. So far the number of doctors are concerned, as per 2017, the total registered AYUSH doctors were 7,73,668; only 2.9% increase in comparison to 2016.

 Sir, if you compare with 2008 to 2017, you will be surprised to see, between this period there was a decrease of 6.4% of Ayurved doctors across the country though we must appreciate there was an increase of 145% of Yoga Naturopathy doctors in our country, Sir.

Sir, amongst the doctors who are practising AYUSH, Ayurveda is being practised by 55.4 percent, homeopathy is being practised by 36.8 percent, Unani is being practised by 6 percent, Siddha is being practised by 1.1 percent and Yoga and naturopathy is being practised by 0.3 per cent only. Sir, there was a quality control index, quality control of AYUSH drugs, was supposed to be done by the Drug Control Cell. But to be very honest Sir, it has not been working sincerely. As of January 2018, it is said that a certain number of funds have been given to each and every State but the standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has recommended that the amount that is given to each an every state is much below than what is required for each an every State to promote this AYUSH system everywhere. 

Sir, if we come to the drug laboratory centres, there are 29 state drug centres and 47 state pharmacies. On the contrary there are 55 private laboratories and 8,667 private pharmacies. What does it reflect? People who are interested to get AYUSH treatment , they are being forced to go to the private sector and they have to pay from their own pockets. This is very unfortunate for our country.

Sir, the Standing Committee recommendation was that there should be at least one public sector laboratory in each state which is non-existent as of now. Sir, let us come to the advertisement part of AYUSH drugs. There was an organisation called GAMA, that is ‘Grievance Against Misleading Advertisements’, which was launched  by the Consumers’’ Affairs Department. The Drug Control Cell in collaboration with this ASCI which stands for ‘Advertising Standards Council of India,’ was supposed to look into all these misleading advertisements but if you through all the newspapers , if you through the electronic media , you will be surprised to know that many such misleading advertisements are still taking place as of now. 

So far the data is concerned , in 2016-18 , 1,109 misleading advertisements have been reported and in 2017-18 the ASCI has dealt with another 960 new complaints. Year wise in 2016 the complaint was 2,204, in 2017 it was 547 and in 2018 it was 358, so in the last three years 1,109 misleading advertisements have taken place. 

So far the research work is concerned, as you know, research is an integrated part of the AYUSH system rather it should be considered as a must but unfortunately  the fund that has been given by the present government for the research purpose is much below than the required amount. The government must take this into consideration.

The Ministry has thought about five autonomous research councils. My question to the Honourable Minister, is what are these councils doing and what are the outcomes of their research activities in the field of AYUSH?

Now let us come to the State-wise list of AYUSH doctors. As of now, I must tell you, Sir, the list is according to the data available in the public domain published on January 1, 2017. Sir, listen to me very carefully. We are talking of ayurveda doctors. We are talking about AYUSH and ‘AYUSH’ begins with ayurveda. There are no ayurveda doctors in Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. These States and union territories are totally deprived of ayurveda doctors.

Now let’s come to yoga and naturopathy. Only Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu have yoga and naturopathy doctors. The rest of the States are deprived. Now let’s come to unani.  There are no unani doctors in Assam, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Chandigarh. Now let’s cone to siddha. You’ll be shocked to know, Sir, that there are siddha doctors only in Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Now let’s look at homoeopathy. There are no doctors in Manipur, Sikkim, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry. Let’s look at the State-wise list of State pharmacies. It is zero in Delhi. Can you believe it?  

There are no sufficient provisions of jobs for AYUSH doctors. There is no sufficient budgetary allocation by our present Government and the most terrifying part of the story is bridge course. There is no sufficient effort to promote each individual system of AYUSH. On the other hand, this present Government is trying to promote ‘mixo-pathy’ and ‘cross-pathy’. 

Sir, I am an MBBS doctors. If I am asked to go through a bridge course of six months and if I am asked to practice homoeopathy or ayurveda, you can imagine what type of doctor what type of doctor I will be at the end of the day. So my suggestion before the Honourable Minister will be, if you want to promote each individual system of AYUSH, you should be more careful, more budgetary allocation should be there, do not go for ‘cross-pathy’ and ‘mixo-pathy’, and try to open more and more medical colleges for each system.