New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Thursday questioned Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s move to promote alternative medicines and yoga for Covid-19 patients.
Vardhan had released a document Tuesday, prescribing protocol for Covid prevention and treatment of asymptomatic as well as mild cases based on ayurveda and yoga.
The protocol promotes use of ashwagandha, guduchi, pippali, Ayush 64 tablets in different doses, and yoga to prevent Covid, treat mild symptoms and for post-Covid self-care.
In a press release issued by IMA’s national president Rajan Sharma and secretary general R.V. Asokan, the association asked the minister five questions and sought his response to them.
Some of these questions were —‘How many of his ministerial colleagues have so far got treated under AYUSH protocols?’; and ‘What is stopping him from handing over Covid care and control to the AYUSH ministry (from his own health ministry?’
The association, which is the apex lobby of 3.5 lakh doctors in the country, demanded that “the Union health minister should come clean” on the questions.
“If not, he is inflicting a fraud on the nation and gullible patients by calling placebos as drugs,” it said. Placebo is a dummy pill.
ThePrint reached a health ministry spokesperson for a comment on the matter via email and text message, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
‘Measure AYUSH treatment on two scientific parameters’
The minister, the IMA said, has “arranged impressive names of institutions to support his prescription” of yoga, and AYUSH therapies and medicines.
It said Vardhan promotes alternative medicine by admitting that “these are based on empirical evidence, which means that the evidence is anecdotal and based on individual subjective experiences”.
The association pointed out that the minister “himself relegates AYUSH as history rather than current by saying Ayurveda has contributed to foundation of modern medicine”.
The IMA clarified that science “demands” two things.
First, as listed in the release, is “reproducibility of a claim elsewhere in non-conflict situations”.
Replication of the claim is one of the “key ways scientists build confidence in the scientific merit of results”. When the result from one study is found to be consistent by another study, it is more likely to represent a reliable claim to new knowledge, according to the US-based The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Another important scientific parameter mentioned by the IMA is “double-blind control studies”, which is one the most respectable methods of clinical trial as it prevents bias in checking the efficacy of the treatment.
The 5 questions
The IMA asked five questions to Vardhan. “IMA prefers the following posers to the Union Health Minister who happens to be a modern medicine doctor,” it mentioned.
It questioned the minister if there is satisfactory evidence regarding the claims made from AYUSH studies done on Covid patients based on the two scientific requirements.
It further asked if those evidences are “weak or moderate or strong”, while adding that the evidence should be in public domain and available for scientific scrutiny.
The association also asked if all those who support claims of efficacy of AYUSH-based medicines and therapies are “prepared to subject themselves as volunteers to an independent prospective double-blind control study in prevention and treatment of Covid.
It also asked Vardhan that “how many of his ministerial colleagues have so far made the informed choice of getting treated under these (AYUSH) protocols?”
Lastly, it asked: “What is stopping him from handing over Covid care and control to the AYUSH ministry?”