Doctors without degrees

Saturday 15 August 2009

-- Can practise Indian systems of medicine in Kerala

a decision of the Kerala government to register practitioners of Indian systems of medicine even if they do not have academic qualification has sparked protests across the state. The order issued in June specified just one eligibility criterion--age. The practitioners in north Kerala should be at least 42 years old while those in central and south Kerala should be 21 years old with minimum five years experience. An estimated 50,000 persons will get recognition through this order.

Ayurveda, yunani, siddha and homeopathy (ayush) doctors dubbed the order "a licence for quacks". "With this order, anyone in Kerala can start treating anyone for any ailment," said V G Udayakumar, of the Kerala chapter of Ayurveda Medical Association.

The Central Council of Indian Medicine, the statutory body that governs practice of traditional systems of medicine in India, has asked the Kerala government to immediately withdraw the order saying it violates the Indian Medicine Central Council (imcc) Act, 1970.The Kerala Traditional Medical Practitioners Federation, however, support the order. "The agitation against the order is backed by pharma companies," alleged Shaji Vaidyan, general secretary of the federation. "We make our own medicines while the qualified practitioners depend on pharmaceutical companies," he said.

ayush doctors said the government is not tackling the real problem--the absence of a unified law. The Travancore-Kochi Medical Practiti-oners Bill, 1953, says only qualified ayurveda doctors can practise. But this law is applicable only to south and central Kerala districts, not Malabar. The imcc Act mandates educational qualification but says existing local laws, if any, will prevail over central law.

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