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Haryana’s one-year ayurveda study plan under MBBS can’t be executed, say medical experts

MBBS students in the state will get to study ayurveda for one year, health minister Anil Vij had announced on Friday. Vij to also seek approval from the NMC on the subject.

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Chandigarh: Medical experts have decried Haryana’s plans to teach ayurveda under the five-year MBBS undergraduate medical programme, calling the move neither practical nor likely to be executed.

Haryana health minister Anil Vij had announced Friday that ayurveda would be taught for a year to MBBS students, as part of efforts to promote the traditional system of medicine.

“It is not possible because the curriculum for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in India is governed by the National Medical Commission (NMC). No state can make changes in curriculum by introducing the study of ayurveda for one year,” said a former officer from the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The MCI, plagued by corruption, was replaced by the NMC in 2019.

Another senior medical professional, a member of the Haryana chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), told The Print Saturday that Vij’s announcement was not likely to be implemented.

“Out of approximately 90,000 medical graduates produced in our country, nearly 8,000 to 12,000 appear for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) to pursue postgraduate studies in the US, and in some cases even settle in that country. Nearly 4,000 students clear this test every year. But if our MBBS students study allopathy for four years and ayurveda for the fifth, it’s unlikely that the US will allow medical graduates from Haryana to appear in the USMLE,” he said.

According to the medical professional, no one was against the promotion of ayurveda, which has been a part of the Indian medical system for ages, but the best way to promote it was by providing funds for research in that system rather than forcing students of the allopathic system to study it.

“I don’t think the NMC will allow this to happen, because throughout the five years of their programme, MBBS students have a lot of courses to study. It is not possible to spare one complete year for the study of ayurveda,” he added.

Dr Shamsher Singh Lohchab, Director of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Rohtak, told The Print Saturday that if the NMC provided approval, the ayurveda course could be added to the curriculum for MBBS students.

Asked whether it may impact the prospects of students who wished to go abroad for postgraduate degrees, Dr Lohchab said the NMC was the regulatory body for medical education in India, and any degree recognised by it was valid for studies, subject to the clearing of examinations prescribed by other countries.

“The curriculum for the MBBS course must contain all that is prescribed by the NMC. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t include any course over and above the minimum requirements of the NMC,” said Dr Lohchab.

As the announcement drew criticism, Vij on Saturday defended the move and said there should be an integration of all systems of medicine.

“There is a certain section of people who believe all other alternative systems of medicine are useless, but there should be an integration of both ayurveda and allopathy. The motive should be to cure the patient,” the health minister said while speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of his weekly darbar held at Ambala Cantt.

Also read: Indians tried new-age Keto, Atkins, Paleo, low-carb. Now they’re going back to Ayurvedic diet

‘We will seek approval from NMC’

Anil Vij, as the chief guest for ‘75 lakh Surya Namaskar’, a state-level programme organised at Ambala Cantt on Friday, had announced that MBBS students would be taught allopathy for four years and ayurveda for one year.

“To promote traditional Indian medicines, we will incorporate a year of ayurveda in five-year MBBS curriculum,” he said, adding that he had constituted teams to formulate the course for teaching ayurveda to MBBS students.

The health minister further talked about efforts to promote alternative systems of medicine. “The Haryana government is taking steps to promote AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) and has recently made it a separate department. Earlier, AYUSH used to get buried under other health departments,” he said.

On Saturday, Vij said the state government would approach the NMC on the inclusion of ayurveda in MBBS studies. “We have constituted a committee to explore the possibilities for this (study of ayurveda). We will also seek approval from the NMC. The process has been initiated,” he asserted.

However, Vij didn’t elaborate on the committee and its members.

According to the Directorate of Medical Education and Research, Haryana has 13 medical colleges. Of these, 6 are government colleges, one is government-aided and six are functional private colleges.

(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)

Also read: Dated, sexist and problematic—Why Indian Ayurvedic syllabus must evolve with changing times

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