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Panel asks govt to persuade private insurance companies to cover Ayush treatments

Panel asks govt to persuade private insurance companies to cover Ayush treatments


Posted on February 27, 2024 Updated on February 26, 2024

The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare has recommended to the government to persuade private insurance companies to include Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (Ayush) treatments in their products and look at global acceptance for these systems of medicines through legalisation and insurance support in other countries.

It has also suggested incorporating awareness of Ayush systems into school curricula, as a significant step towards minimising knowledge barriers between Ayush and modern medicine.

The Committee, in its 156th report on Review of National Ayush Mission (NAM), recommended that India must pursue private insurance companies to include Ayush treatments, such as Panchkarma and other therapies, wherever scope prevails. The Committee also recommended that the Government persuade the countries to legalise the Ayurveda stream of medicines in the US and other countries.

“The Committee feels that this should be combined with ensuring insurance coverage of Ayush treatments and practicing them in a similar vein to promote the practice of Ayush treatments in countries like the USA, UK, etc. The government must persuade companies providing insurance in those countries. Drawing from the experiences of South Korea, the Committee would like to recommend the government take adequate measures to integrate the financial component of fixing rates for consultation in Ayush,” added the report from the Committee headed by Rajya Sabha member Bhubaneswar Kalita.

The Panel observed that Traditional Chinese Medicine forms an integral part of the public healthcare system that includes insurance coverage and an essential medicine list and is integrated with modern medical treatment facilities. Efforts are on to have TCM in the last mile coverage of primary healthcare represented through the village clinics.

Like China, the Ministry of Ayush’s efforts to establish 12,500 Health and Wellness Centres (since renamed as Arogya Mandirs) go a long way in establishing Ayush as a medicinal system with the potential to fulfill the objectives of the universal health program. Like China, the Government of India should also devise ways to integrate the Ayush system with poverty alleviation initiatives to boost community engagement. Similarly, the Ministry of Ayush should collaborate with the ministry of health and family welfare to implement measures ensuring that the health workforce comprehends the importance of integrating systems.

It opined that this collaboration aims to establish a pluralistic health system that caters to the population’s diverse needs. Facilitating a dialogue among health providers from various systems becomes imperative for optimising patient outcomes. Substantial reforms in Indian medical education are essential to instill in medical students and practitioners an attitude supportive of the integration of modern medicine and traditional medicine.

“As a recommendation, the Committee suggests incorporating awareness of Ayush systems into school curricula, a significant step towards minimising knowledge barriers between Ayush and modern medicine,” it added.

The co-located Ayush facilities at PHCs and CHCs may act as a one-stop center for both conventional and traditional healthcare services and thus strengthen access to Ayush services and for better coordination, the Committee recommended the sharing of infrastructure, medical equipment, and administrative staff at Ayush facilities and allopathic teams, thus optimising resource utilisation and cost-effectiveness.

Physicians from both systems can work together to develop comprehensive treatment plans for patients, considering both Indian and Western medical perspectives. The Committee recommended the Ministry to ensure at least one specialist practitioner in Ayurveda/Homoeopathy/Yoga/Siddha in these co-located facilities.

“The Committee hopes that this initiative may result in integrating the Ayush system of medicine for managing chronic conditions like respiratory ailments, digestive problems, and musculoskeletal disorders,” said the report.

Observing that in some states and Union Territories, there is no separate Department of Ayush, it recommended the Ministry of Ayush to impress upon and persuade the States and UTs with no separate department of Ayush to create such a department for speedy development and implementation of Ayush sector and schemes respectively has not been opened. This will boost the Ayush system and create better coordination in Ayush Healthcare, it added.

The primary objective of the Committee behind identifying the subject was to evaluate the integration of Ayush with modern medicine and what measures have been taken to foster a comprehensive and evidence-based healthcare approach.

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