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Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai. November 23 , 2021
Expressing dissent over the way the draft of the ‘National Health Research Policy (NHRP) 2021 was framed by the Department of Health Research (DHR) under the Union health ministry, the ayurvedic community of the traditional knowledge system in the country wanted Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to effect necessary changes for including the Department of Ayush within the framework of the NHRP 2021.

On behalf of the traditional knowledge system and the Indian Systems of Medicine, the Ayurveda Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI) has written to the prime minister that Ayurveda and Yoga are systems of healing exclusively rooted in the Indian knowledge system, but ignoring the possibilities of the systems while formulating health research policies is an offence from the side of the policy makers.

The letter says that “in spite of a fully functional department is there for the Ayush systems, it is disheartening to see that no initiative is taken to consolidate the researches in Ayush systems and enable their translation into public health programmes”.

Dr. D Ramanathan, general secretary of the AMMOI, while commending the bottom-up approach adopted by DHR in preparing the draft policy, informed the prime minister that Covid-19 pandemic has revealed one fact that health research is necessary to know about disease trends and risk factors, outcomes of treatments or public health interventions, patterns of care and health care costs.  Because of its huge acceptance by the common public the traditional systems of medicine have an edge over management of several infectious diseases and they are cost effective. However, the objectives of the National Health Research Policy do not state the need to include Indian systems of medicine into the policy framework albeit it underlines an interdisciplinary approach.

According to AMMOI, the net result of this gross neglect of research and development in the Ayush systems by national policy makers of health researches resulted in the under-utilization of the traditional systems of medicine, and make the general public feel abhorrent towards their integrity. The potential of traditional knowledge systems in the management of epidemics in a cost effective and resourceful manner has been time and again demonstrated in isolated studies, the association observed.

“With their fast gaining acceptance on global platforms, it is our responsibility as a nation to uphold Ayush systems in their true essence and principles. Generating good quality evidence-based research in clinical possibilities, drug development and in addressing safety concerns is indeed a need of the hour. The NHRP 2021 will serve its purpose of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ provided it recognizes this need and includes Ayush department into its policy making,” Dr Ramanathan wrote to the PM.

According to sources from DHR, a well-designed health research policy will have a positive impact on national development. The policy will include economic development, social inclusion and environmental sustainability for achieving an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (a self-reliant India) emphasizing upon promotion of knowledge system, developing indigenous technologies and encouraging start up new technological innovation which will be cost saving with maximum efficacy.

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