CHENNAI: Siddha graduates passing out from institutes in the state are yet to be employed as doctors even though there is a huge demand for this alternate medicine in recent years.
According to the Centre for Traditional Medicine & Research secretary Dr T Thirunarayanan of the 1600 government primary health centres in the state, only 450 have Siddha wing and another 200 have national rural health mission funded doctors working in it.
"This does not cover even half the rural population of Tamil Nadu. Even in Urban public health centres in cities and municipalities, there are very few Siddha doctors. Though people want to take Siddha treatment there is gross inadequacy, he says.
Interestingly, CTMR will be flagging off the issue before the state government and urging it to focus on creating Siddha wings in rural and Urban public health centres. M A Kumar, former advisor, Ministry of Health and Department of Ayush recalls that the majority of the people who pass out of institutes are not recruited and the budget for promoting Siddha is minimal.
A senior Siddha doctor on condition of anonymity says that 150 posts of Siddha medical officers are lying unfilled for the last six years in the clinics attached to the Public health centres and in Siddha hospitals. He says no recruitment for Siddha medical officers is done, even for vacancies created by death or retirement, for the last six years.
Not only that, there are at least five clinical specializations at the postgraduate level in Siddha. "But even in District hospital, not even one specialist has been posted even after 30 years of starting courses. The administration of the Indian System of Medicines in Tamil Nadu should appoint all five specialists in all district Siddha hospitals," says Dr Thirunarayanan.
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"Every year, 500 students graduate from private as well as two government colleges in the state but there are no opportunities. A few migrate to rural areas and set up clinics just behind the shop while those in urban areas work in clinics with bare minimum salary," he says.
Interestingly, specialists in Siddha general medicine, paediatrics, external therapy, Yoga therapy, and Varma therapy are not being absorbed by the government for the district hospitals or taluk hospitals.
There are over 1,000 trained Siddha nursing therapists who are able to perform external therapies and para-surgical procedures are waiting for opportunities, he says. Kumar says that Siddha officials in the government departments are not taking the initiative to highlight the plight of the students or those who have completed the degree. A government doctor concurs with it. He says the office-bearers are hand-in-glove with the administration and never highlight the issues plaguing the Siddha field.
Dr Thirunarayanan says district hospitals of Siddha with a minimum of 100 beds have to be created and district Siddha medical officers (DSMO) be posted for all 38 districts. He also highlighted the plight of DSMOs, who also function as Drug inspector so they are not able to function effectively in arresting the manufacturing and sale of spurious and substandard medicines
He says the drug research lab even after a decade does not have adequately trained researchers, analysts, and technicians, and the building near Anna Arch in Chennai just lie as a showpiece. The Siddha government doctor says that the doctors are not provided with stationaries. Similarly, the pharmacy doesn't have paper or polythene, or any other eco-friendly carry bag to carry medicines. "Patients either have to bring utensils from home or the medicine is being wrapped in newspaper," he says.
Dr Thirunarayanan says Siddha university with just 15 colleges will not be financially sustainable from affiliation fees examination fees alone. The research organisation Central Council for Research in Siddha (CCRS) even after 10 years of independent existence has not come out with any innovation. So State should first take initiative to validate some of the most frequently used formulations. The priority should be public health, he says.