What ails traditional medicine?

Underutilisation of funds, says CAG

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

gross non-utilisation of budgetary allocation has severely hampered the growth of traditional systems of medicine in India, says the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (cag).

In a recent report on the department of ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy (ayush), cag said the lack of money was clearly not the reason for the sad state of traditional medicine systems.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare allocated just two per cent of the health budget to ayush against the promised 10 per cent. But even this was not used. As of December 2004, 72 per cent of the money allocated to 12 states for the period between 2000-2005 remained unutilised. This has affected projects such as setting up of specialised therapy centres, supply of essential drugs and health resort clinics for tourists.

cag inspected 142 colleges and their attached hospitals run by ayush and found that none possessed adequate facilities or faculty. Even the five special centres constituted to impart high quality education lacked adequate infrastructure. The pharmacopoeia committees have also failed to set standards for compound drugs.

As many as 59 of the 66 research projects begun seven years ago by ayush remain incomplete. The processes of drug standardisation, drugs proving and clinical verification are not moving in tandem, cag noted. Only 707 out of 7,849 manufacturing units have the mandatory 'good manufacturing practices' certificate from the government and none of the 61 state drug-testing laboratories are fully functional. Other projects like those under the medicinal plants board for cultivation and developing agro techniques are also not working well.

The report recommends that steps be taken to streamline the system for transfer of funds to different states. It suggests that a computer-based tracking system for released grants be set up to improve their utilisation and states refund the unutilised money to avoid blocking of resources when competing sectors face funds crunch.

In the area of research, appropriate guidelines should be set for taking up research activities under fixed parameters in a time-bound manner, the report added. Research findings relating to all components of each scheme need to be finalised, patented and disseminated among the stakeholders.

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