GS 3, Sci & Technology, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
3. India will have to regulate Ayurveda to meet the demand for natural remedies in the world market. Comment.
विश्व बाजार में प्राकृतिक उपचार की मांग पूरा करने के लिए भारत को आयुर्वेद को रेगुलेट करना पड़ेगा। टिप्पणी करें।
Demand of the question:
The question expects students to write about the need to regulate the Ayurveda to meet the demand for natural remedies in main points/core and give one’s opinion based on the information or the arguments originated from the reading.
Natural remedies knowledge in Ayurveda carries thousands of years of tradition. The knowledge of Natural remedies has came in to limelight during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially on the need to regulate the Ayurveda to meet the demand for natural remedies in the world market.
Modern thinking is creeping into alternative medicine. This is good, and India stands to gain enormously as a producer and exporter of traditional herbal medicines.
- The world’s growing fascination with natural remedies, traditional and alternative medicines and herbs augurs well for India. These can provide a substantial source of income for farmers and companies across the country.
- A very small quantity of herbal medicines produced in India is exported, as they do not meet the regulatory standards required by importing countries.
- Even at its current levels, with little exports, estimates are that Ayurveda is a Rs 30,000 crore industry in India.
- Recent ‘Coronil’ controversy emphasises the role the government has to play beyond encouraging the use of Ayurveda.
While they can be a great source of income and exports for India, we will need a modern regulatory system to succeed.
Regulatory requirement for Ayurveda:
- At the core of promoting alternative medicines are two government regulatory functions: One, ensuring safety, and two, checking the truth of claims about efficacy.
- Contrary to popular belief, Ayurvedic medicines can be dangerous to health. The dangers arise primarily for following reasons as, all plants are not safe for consumption, use of ashes and non-plant materials, iIllegal addition of allopathic medicines.
- Similarly, ashes may concentrate dangerous metals in the formulation. As recently as 2017, the Food and Drug Administration of the US warned against the use of certain Ayurvedic medicines. The FDA found the medication to contain dangerous levels of lead.
- Some unscrupulous medicine manufacturers go a step further. They mix allopathic medicines in Ayurvedic drugs, usually steroids. Some steroids (mostly corticosteroids) give a false sense of well-being by improving circulation and alertness.
- For the wrong ailments, like infections, they may accelerate the underlying disease, but since the patient gets a steroid high, he or she feels better and ascribes it to the medicine. A study by the King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai found around 40% of Ayurvedic drugs tested contained steroids.
- Uncontrolled use of poisonous plants, presence of heavy metals, and outright fraud (adding steroids) damages the reputation of Indian medicine. The unscrupulous and negligent manufacturers make profits by cheating, but harm the status of the entire industry.
- The problem is worse in international markets. While we in India may be able to distinguish between established brands and suspicious ones, this is difficult sitting in the foreign country. A patient with a negative experience will probably avoid all Ayurvedic medicines.
Necessary steps to regulate Ayurveda:
- The first step of regulation of medicines is to ensure safety. Irrespective of whether they have any therapeutic effect, an AYUSH medicine should not harm patients..
- The second step after enforcing safety provisions is checking therapeutic claims.
- Making heavy penalty provision for the false claims, counterfeiting of medicines etc.
Government steps to promote and regulate Ayurveda:
- In 2003, the government published the first official list of Ayurvedic medicines, called a pharmacopoeia. The publication of a pharmacopoeia is the first step towards formalising any medical system.
- In 2014, the government merged the regulation of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (collectively called AYUSH) into a separate eponymous ministry.
- In 2017, the All India Ayurveda Institute was set up in Delhi, on the lines of the famous All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Also recently, the government decided to sell Ayurvedic medicines in Jan Aushadhi stores.
Regulation of any medical system has concentrated on safety and efficacy to protect patients. Along with the promotion of AYUSH and farming of herbs, if we set up proper regulation of Ayurvedic medicines, we will not merely protect patients, but also promote Ayurveda as a safe and effective system of medicine, a system in which India can be a world leader.
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