Under the Ayush Mission, we are committed to providing an Ayush hospital in each district. Till now, 100 such demands have come, and at least 70 have been approved by us, at the central level. We are also committed to starting research centres in every state.
Today, Amrita Hospital in Kerala, AIIMS in Delhi and Medanta in Gurgaon have integrated medicine centres. How do you look at the future of integrated medicine?
Integrated medicine has a very bright future. Apart from the hospitals that you mentioned, an integrated medicine department is also coming up in Apollo Hospital. In integrated medicine, the patient is the focal centre. All forms of medicine have their own strengths. If these combine and come together, there’s a possibility of the patient getting better faster. We are also taking integrated medicine to the districts. We have selected ten districts in ten states where we are offering integrated medicine. In one place, for instance, we are offering ayurvedic along with allopathic medicine. In the districts, the practitioners are screening the patients to detect non-communicable diseases in their early stages. If detected in the first stage, it becomes easier to cure these diseases.
In all these districts, allopathy and yoga are supplemented by other forms of medicine – ayurvedic, naturopathy, unani, siddha, etc. We are waiting for results from these ten districts. If satisfied, we will take up 90 more districts. We are also stressing on lifestyle changes as well as early detection of non-communicable diseases. If diseases like cancer can be detected in their early stages, treatment becomes a lot more easier. We see the efficacy of integrated medicine here.
Do you feel that by offering integrated medicine, you can promote more medical tourism?
Definitely yes! We are seeing the spread of wellness tourism. All hospitals want to have centres of integrated medicine. All forms of medicine have their inherent strengths. We need to capitalise on them all. Through the promotion of integrated medicine, medical tourism will get a big boost.
Among the objectives of the Ayush ministry, cancer and diabetes are high-focus diseases. What are your objectives? Which areas are seeing more research and development?
The year gone by was dedicated to diabetes. A committee formed by the health and Ayush ministries ran a nationwide campaign, and screened 2.5 lakh people for this disease. All those susceptible to diabetes were asked to work on their lifestyles. They were given lessons in yoga. Thus a holistic change was what we advocated through this campaign.
This year, we have chosen cancer. We are launching a nationwide campaign – we will screen people, educate them on the treatment options available, and advocate a lifestyle change. So, every year is dedicated to a disease and a holistic programme is formed around it.
Ayurvedic medicine is an important component of the Ayush mandate. What are you doing to further popularise avurveda?
We are aiming to take the Ayush mission to the grassroots. We have chosen 100 districts. We have plans to have research centres in every state. There’s also a plan to have an Ayush practitioner at each primary health centre who can initiate patients into the Ayush form of alternative medicine. This expenditure will be borne by us. We already have plans for 100 wellness centres.
Another landmark announcement was made in the Union Budget which envisaged 1.5 lakh wellness centres.We certainly will be able to popularise our forms of medicine through these schemes.
The Ayushman Bharat Mission provides for an insurance scheme for the poor. Does the mandate include the Ayush forms of treatment as well?
Of the wellness centres announced in the Union Budget, a large number will be run by the Ayush ministry.