Health Minister promotes AYUSH's coronavirus treatment protocol, IMA asks questions
On Tuesday, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan released the AYUSH standard treatment protocol for coronavirus patients, only to be at the receiving end of pointed questions by the Indian Medical Association (IMA). The body on Thursday asked if any of his colleagues were treated via this route. IMA also asked the minister to "come clean" on his claims. Here's what went down.
At the launch, Vardhan said AYUSH Ministry updated its protocols in sync with ICMR and CSIR. He said while modern medicines have made lives better, the ancient science of Ayurveda has its own benefits. During the pandemic, Vardhan said, he received queries from people regarding immunity-boosting kadhas. This shows Ayurveda is still relevant and needs to be rejuvenated using newer scientific methods, he added.
Reportedly, the protocols called for using items like ashwagandha, guduchi, pippali to treat mild symptoms of the highly-infectious COVID-19. For asymptomatic patients, AYUSH 64 tablets were recommended for 15 days or as per a physician's direction. The protocols also suggested regular yoga and sound sleep for at least six hours. For post-COVID-care, 30-minute-long yoga was suggested.
Naturally, the protocols didn't find takers in IMA. In a stinging press release, signed by National President Rajan Sharma and Secretary-General RV Asokan, IMA asked five questions. One of the questions reportedly read, "How many of his ministerial colleagues have so far got treated under AYUSH protocols?" IMA also asked what is stopping him from handing COVID-19 care and control to AYUSH Ministry.
According to the body, the minister "arranged impressive names of institutions to support his prescription." "He admits that these are based on empirical evidence which means that the evidence is anecdotal and based on individual subjective experiences," IMA added. If the minister doesn't come clean, he is committing fraud on the nation and "gullible patients" by referring to placebo as a drug.
"He himself refers to AYUSH as historical forms of treatment rather than current ones, by saying Ayurveda has contributed to the foundation of modern medicine. IMA demands that the Union Health Minister come clean," the statement went on.
Asokan said IMA has written to the Health Ministry seeking answers. "He is the health minister, not the AYUSH minister. What is the credibility of the document he has given?" he questioned. The senior official said there are risks of mixing treatment methods, more so, in the middle of a pandemic. "We are trying to save lives. This is a serious issue," he said.
Not long ago, IMA fumed at the BJP leader after he didn't mention the death of doctors due to coronavirus in his address in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. Providing him, and the rest of the country, the details, IMA said by mid-September, 382 doctors died due to the disease. The body demanded that the Centre gives the deceased "martyr status."