It’s official. Practitioners of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) appointed in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in rural areas of Karnataka can practice allopathy “during emergencies”.
A Government Order to this effect was issued on Thursday. With this, Karnataka has joined the list of 13 States, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, and Uttarakhand, where integrated practise is legal.
Despite objections by some groups, including the Karnataka Medical Council and Indian Medical Association, a committee, headed by the State Drugs Controller, set up by the Health Department to study the feasibility of allowing AYUSH doctors to practice allopathy, gave the go-ahead, following which the order was issued.
The committee recommended that AYUSH practitioners in PHCs should undergo a six-month crash course under senior doctors in district hospitals. The jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner-headed regulatory committees, set up under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment Act, should certify trained AYUSH practitioners, the panel said.
“The course will include three months each of theory and practicals. The idea is to prepare them to treat communicable and non-communicable diseases in rural areas,” said N.A. Magadum, president of AYUSH Federation of India’s State unit, who is also a member of the committee.
He said that although the decision is to train and allow integrated practise for AYUSH practitioners who are recruited in PHCs, there is a need to allow all AYUSH practitioners to do so like in other States.
This move has, however, faced stiff opposition from the State unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC), who fear it could “make way for quackery”. KMC has written to the government seeking postponement of the implementation of the order by 15 days. “Allowing integrated practise will result in increased number of medical negligence cases. It is unfortunate that our views have not been considered,” a KMC member said.
Official sources in the Health Department said the move was essential as the department had repeatedly failed to attract adequate number of MBBS graduates for its PHCs. “We already have nearly 800 AYUSH practitioners recruited against the posts of General Duty Medical Officers,” a top official said.