The word AYUSH stands for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy. This ancient medical system is being followed in India for thousands of years back and enjoys popularity even outside the country.
Instead of simply focusing on the treatment, this system encourages people to adopt a healthy lifestyle to prevent diseases.
The Government of India established a separate department for AYUSH in the year 2003 to ensure the development and promotion of this ancient medical system.
On 15th September 2015, the government launched the National AYUSH Mission with the following objectives:
- To improve the standard of education in colleges offering courses in the Indian system of medicines and homeopathy
- To increase the number of AYUSH dispensaries and hospitals to provide better access to people for treatments, medicines, and qualified doctors
- To keep a check on the quality of drugs
A rise in the number of people using AYUSH
Indians are relying on ayurvedic therapies for treating various ailments, including slipped disc, migraine, cancer, and respiratory diseases. For working professionals, there are special packages designed for curing anxiety and stress.
With AYUSH gaining popularity in ASIAN nations, the Ministry of AYUSH is also receiving requests to set up AYUSH centers in their countries as well. The Ministry is planning to set up an AYUSH hospital in Kazakhstan along with an Ayurveda college in Bangladesh. Further, it is due to the rising popularity of AYUSH that every year 21 st June is celebrated as International Yoga Day.
Famous AYUSH spots in India
Over the years, AYUSH has gained immense popularity as various ayurvedic and rejuvenation centers have found their places in the country. People from all walks of life touring to the below healing resorts to find peace and comfort away from the busy life:
- The Nattika Beach Ayurveda Resort, Kerala
- Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore
- Ananda in the Himalayas
- Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort
Is AYUSH treatment safe?
Like any other medical system, the traditional system has some adverse effects and contradictions. If the treatment is not done in a proper manner or by a qualified doctor, you might not get the expected results.
Here are some of the concerns around the AYUSH system:
- There are only a few clinical research organizations that are working on developing new medicines or principles for the treatment under this system
- There is a shortage of qualified and trained AYUSH doctors in India
- Usually, treatment in this medical system involves the usage of herbs. But, it is difficult to check the authenticity of these herbs. Also, the overconsumption of herbs can cause health problems as well
- As most of the medicines in AYUSH are easily available over the counter, it encourages people to self-treat themselves without any knowledge of the dosage and the associated risks
- Many people believe that they can start traditional treatment along with their allopathic treatment to get quick relief from health problems. But, that is not true. The mixing of these two treatments can create new health issues
Indeed, barriers to the integration of AYUSH with the modern healthcare system still exist as practitioners of Ayurveda differ from the allopathic system in their physiology and anatomy. Still, it is the right time to bring AYUSH into the mainstream. It requires trust to be formed between allopathy and AYUSH doctors and identify which ailments respond best to which system of medicine.
Though most Indians still prefer the services of private and allopathic doctors when they are ill, as per the survey by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the potential of traditional medicines in the Indian healthcare system is enormous. In 2015, there were over nine lakh allopathic doctors and eight lakh AYUSH practitioners.
Bring AYUSH under health insurance
As medical costs vary in traditional treatments, many insurers do not cover non-allopathic treatments and therefore, do not provide any insurance cover. Further, as stated above, many people resort to the ancient system of treatment along with allopathic medicines which further makes it tough for insurance companies to draft policies.
Though IRDAI in its regulations issued in 2012-13, asked insurance companies to cover non-allopathic and ayurvedic treatments, it is not compulsory.
However, in recent years, various insurance companies have started covering traditional medicines in their health insurance policies. While some insurers cover it in their group health plans, other insurers cover in-patient AYUSH treatment in their individual as well as family floater mediclaim policies.
However, insurers will offer coverage only if the treatment takes place in institutions recognized by the government or accredited by the Quality Council of India or the National Accreditation Board for Hospital and Healthcare Providers.
In addition to this, many insurers have started giving rewards on the basis of fitness and wellness criteria as well. For example, if you continue doing yoga classes for a minimum of one year, you will accumulate reward points that can be redeemed to get coverage, like dental expenses, medicine, and drugs, dental expenses, OPD consultation, etc.; which are not covered under the usual health policy.
The future of the Indian healthcare system lies in the successful collaboration between physicians, Ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga experts, and massage therapists. Though, it is not an easy task to blend both systems of medicine; we should work towards creating an atmosphere where doctors recommend tulsi tea along with cetirizine for cold.