New Delhi: Qualified AYUSH doctors and homoeopaths can prescribe government-approved tablets and mixtures only as immunity booster for Covid-19, the Ministry of Ayush told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the ministry also said AYUSH doctors should not advertise any drug as a cure for Covid-19. It, however, emphasised the benefits of traditional Ayurveda practices and said they improved lifestyles, as well as the immune system.
The ministry’s affidavit was in response to an appeal filed by Dr A.K.B. Sadbhavana Mission School of Homeo Pharmacy against an order by the Kerala High Court on 21 August. The high court order prohibited AYUSH doctors from advertising or prescribing medicines as a cure for Covid-19, except those specifically mentioned in the Centre’s advisory on 6 March 2020.
The high court also gave liberty to state authorities to take appropriate action under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2015 against erring AYUSH practitioners.
Submitting the government’s stand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the high court’s interpretation of Centre’s guidelines was correct. A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan took Mehta’s statement as well as the affidavit on record and disposed of the matter.
Guidelines for use of AYUSH medicines
The Kerala High Court, acting on a PIL filed by a lawyer, had ordered that alternative practices such as homoeopathy, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and naturopathy can be used to enhance immunity to reduce the risk of Covid-19.
This order, the appeal before the apex court contended, was against the AYUSH ministry’s 8 April guidelines that allowed civic authorities to use alternative drugs to deal with the novel coronavirus.
In its affidavit Tuesday, the AYUSH ministry clarified its position. The government said that in view of the “unprecedented and unforeseen precarious situation”, the Ministry of AYUSH had decided to augment and strengthen its response toward Covid-19 by using traditional healthcare practices.
Traditional practices boost immunity
According to the government’s affidavit, the AYUSH ministry had issued two guidelines — one in January and another in March.
Both guidelines had prescribed intervention and preventive management steps under the homoeopathic practices at three stages — preventive and prophylactic, symptom management of Covid-like illnesses and add-on interventions to the conventional care.
These guidelines were prepared by director generals of research councils and directors of national institutes and after vetting by the interdisciplinary AYUSH Research and Development Task Force at the Ministry of AYUSH.
The ministry, while issuing the advisory, had also clearly mentioned that medicines are to be administered as preventive measure or as add-on to conventional treatment.
“It is submitted that as per the finding of the Research Councils under the Ministry of AYUSH, these traditional practices provided lifestyle advocacies to boost immunity which could have played pivotal role in prevention of various kind of infectious diseases,” read the government’s affidavit.
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