The medical tussle

By Aathira HaridasĀ | Express News Service | Published: 11th September 2018 10:51 PM

TIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has set the cat amongst the pigeons with its recent representation to the Prime Minister seeking a complete phase-out of homeopathy practice in India. The recent representation has brought to the fore the long-standing tussle between the modern medical system and the alternative systems of medicine. With both the state and central governments having recognised the alternative systems, the stand taken by IMA by exhorting a total phase-out of the homeopathy is being deemed as undemocratic by many experts. 

Critics allege the plan is to monopolise the health sector and that the public should have the right to choose and follow medical systems they trust in.“The stance taken by the allopathy doctors makes one wonder if the medicine lobby is behind all this. Also, the wide acceptance received from the public for the homeopathic system has turned IMA hostile,” said Dr J Boban, state general secretary, Kerala Government Homoeo Medical Officers’ Association.

He said diseases that require patients to spend in hordes to get it treated in allopathy can be cured at a significantly lower expense in homeopathy. He said, “The huge therapeutic success in infertility is itself proof to the government’s decision of launching infertility treatment clinics and projects such as ‘Seethalayam and ‘Janani’ in the state. Moreover, diseases that require surgery in allopathy such as piles, hemorrhoids, disorders of the thyroid, fibroid, tonsillitis, nasal polyp, benign hypertrophy of prostate can be cured with simple medication in homoeo. Some diseases can be cured better in homeopathy, some in Ayurveda, some requires the intervention of modern medicine.” 

Dr J Boban said all the systems should work under an umbrella for the good of the public. 
“People should have the right to make a choice and follow the system of medicine they trust in,” he added.
Meanwhile, social commentator Philip M Prasad stressed on the need to have various systems of medicines co-exist rather than one of them enjoying a monopoly. 

“Allopathy is no foolproof system. None of the medical textbooks being followed in the medical colleges in Kerala delve on the side-effects caused by medicines. All these textbooks are being sponsored, edited and promoted by multinational medical companies. This particular science is itself based on a lot of probabilities. Nothing is hundred percent foolproof. All these systems of medicine should rather co-operate and not quarrel with each other and work for the larger good of the people.

No system should monopolise the health system and neither can a system bat for banning another medical system,” says Philip M Prasad. “What IMA is propagating is scientific fascism,” he added.
Across the various streams of medical systems except for modern medicine, the consensus is on the need to have a collaboration and liaison between all the systems of medicine. 

“We need all systems of medicine. No system is complete. In a critical stage, we will have to rely on the modern medical system. All branches of medicine should work together for the well being of the people. At the same time we have to be vigilant about quacks amongst those practising traditional medicine,” says Dr C D Leena, state vice president, Ayurveda Medical Association of India.

IMA’s stance on the issue
The Indian Medical Association has maintained that only the modern medicine can treat the critical diseases, while alleging that none of the alternative systems has any scientific backing. “Across the world alternative systems without any scientific backing are being phased out. We need to realise that the alternative medical systems cannot cure diseases, none at all. It is not about us being against alternative systems of medicine, but that there is no scientific basis. Such claims of having medicines at the time of an outbreak put a huge risk on the lives of the patients and that forced us to issue the representation,” IMA state secretary Dr N Sulfi.

“In homeopathy, it is all about the placebo effect. The life expectancy at the time of our independence and now is itself proof to the strides that modern medicine have made. Pumping so much of money to these medical systems by the government is itself a mistake,” he adds. The champions of modern medicine have with the recent representation pigeonholed alternative systems of medicine as not one based on any scientific basis.

“The benefit of the patient is our only concern. If there is a scientific basis for the alternative systems of medicine, we do not have any qualms of accepting it. But as of now there is no solid evidence and the modern medicine is the only evidence-based medical system,” says Dr Abraham Varghese, past IMA president (Kochi branch) and state working committee member.

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