Healthcare crisis and the role of Ayurveda – The New Indian Express

India planned to achieve “health for all” by the year 2000. We are far from achieving this goal even today. Because, since Independence, the country has followed a health policy that has ignored indigenous and Indian medical systems. The consequences were disastrous.

For many centuries in India, doctors of Ayurveda and other traditional medical systems effectively treated diseases. That they continue to play a vital role in our society has become evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has devastated the Indian population. However, Ayurvedic doctors have successfully treated all categories of COVID-19 patients during all waves of the pandemic. They have treated viral illnesses such as dengue fever, chikungunya and swine flu year after year.

COVID-19 is another viral disease for which Ayurveda offers an effective remedy. Unfortunately, the details and results of Ayurvedic treatments remain largely unknown, except for some articles in peer-reviewed medical journals.

For Ayurvedic physicians who have treated COVID-19 patients in mild, moderate, severe and high risk categories, it is clear that a great opportunity to contain the damage has been missed by not making Ayurvedic therapeutic interventions available. of our people.

A few months into the pandemic, some things started to become clear. In the absence of any effective medicine against COVID-19 in the allopathic system, the condition of several patients with mild and moderate cases deteriorated and they died.

Patients were often rushed to private health facilities in the hope that life support facilities would be available in modern allopathic hospitals. On the other hand, Ayurvedic doctors have been able to provide effective prophylactic and curative treatment from the early stage of the disease to prevent it from progressing to advanced stages. These drugs have been used safely for patients of all age groups and also for those with comorbidities.

Although some state governments have not allowed Ayurvedic doctors to manage patients with COVID-19, some have not interfered in their treatment. States like Tamil Nadu have supported the efforts of Siddha and Ayurveda practitioners.

The government of Tamil Nadu has officially distributed Kabasura Kudineer, a Siddha medicine, to many localities as a preventive measure. Several stores were selling this medicine and some were even giving it away for free. It is perhaps due to the large scale distribution of these Ayurvedic/Siddha drugs in the early phase of the pandemic that its spread in Tamil Nadu seemed less virulent.

The Ayush Ministry, Government of India was constantly providing various inputs on the preventive measures for COVID-19 and it notified a detailed treatment protocol for traditional doctors treating the virus outbreak.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, COVID-19 has been identified as an avata kapha jwara (fever) resulting from the aggravation of two pathogenic factors in the body, namely vata and kapha. Both are called doshas.

Ayurvedic doctors, who used to treat similar fevers, were confident that COVID-19 could be treated effectively with Ayurvedic medicines along with careful management of diet and daily regimen.

Patients were informed of the home quarantine and doctors stayed in daily contact with them by phone. The effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatment for COVID-19 then spread by word of mouth.

Patients over 60 and those with underlying medical conditions are said to be at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. So-called comorbid conditions include cancer, chronic renal failure (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), immunocompromised state or weakened immune system, obesity (body mass index of 30 and above), type 2 diabetes, moderate diabetes to severe asthma, heart disease and hypertension. Ayurvedic physicians have treated COVID-19 patients with all of the above comorbidities, many of whom had multiple comorbidities, with relatively low mortality.

There were over 700 patients of all categories treated at a single Ayurvedic clinic in Chennai. All cases were fully documented according to the protocol provided by the Ministry of Ayush. The majority of treated cases were unvaccinated.

Among the first 650 patients, 34% were high-risk patients with multiple comorbidities. They included patients with chronic kidney disease (one of whom missed three consecutive dialysis sessions due to COVID-19), cancer patients undergoing palliative chemotherapy or radiation therapy, patients with chronic diabetes mellitus, d high blood pressure and a BMI over 40.

There were patients over 90 with comorbidities; there were elderly patients with a long history of chronic heart disease. There were those with CT features suggestive of acute viral interstitial pneumonia with 55% lung involvement, patients with low SpO2 levels that fell below 75 on the slightest exertion of the body, those with respiratory disorders such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc. All of them were successfully treated with self-contained Ayurvedic treatment procedures.

Ayurvedic treatment is also very cost effective. The need for hospitalization is much less and there are no invasive procedures. Some of the work of Ayurvedic physicians is now documented and published in peer-reviewed academic journals.

With over four lakh Ayurvedic practitioners in India and an independent ministry to look after traditional systems, had these medical systems been called upon to handle the pandemic, India could have reduced the death toll in COVID-19, by especially when the worldwide allopathic system has failed to find a cure.

Reports are coming in from all over the country of many Ayurvedic doctors successfully treating COVID-19. Their success should draw the government’s attention to the enormous potential of Ayurveda.

The Indian government should use this opportunity to give Ayurveda a big boost, restore its pre-eminence and improve public health care in India. A lesson can also be learned about handling pandemics in the future.

(Girija is a senior Ayurvedic practitioner and Mukundan is the founding trustee of the Center for Policy Studies. The latter can be contacted at t_m_mukundan@rediffmail.com)

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