To check malpractice, the Kerala government is planning to introduce legislation that will make it mandatory for Ayurveda health centres, spas and resorts to have a licence. According to U.V. Jose, additional director, department of tourism, Kerala, a resolution (which should become an Act very soon ) has been drafted by health and tourism department officials. This lays down a licensing system, gradation of Ayurveda treatment centres, qualifications for masseurs and monitoring mechanisms.
Kerala Tourism already employs a certification method, where it gives a Green Leaf rating to centres it places in the A category, an Olive Leaf rating to category B and so on. Every year, it also gives an award to the best centre.
Last year, the state government had issued an ordinance (details of which are on the Kerala Tourism website) that introduced a three-year licensing system for Ayurveda health centres in Kerala. According to the ordinance, all new Ayurveda health centres should obtain a licence from the director, Indian Systems of Medicine, and the local self-government institution concerned, while functioning centres should obtain the licence within six months.
Licences (after suitable checks by health department officials, tourism officials and other authorities), would be issued in three categories; A, B, and C. The classification is based on the facilities offered by the centres. To be included in category A, the centre should have treatment rooms in prescribed proportions, a full-time registered medical practitioner in-house, a nurse each for ten patients, both male and female therapists/masseurs, and a manager. Among other requirements listed are the Dhron i (a traditional wooden bed used for treatment).
B category centres cannot offer in-patient treatment, while C category centres cannot offer any complicated treatments including, Panchakarma. Only massages and Udvarthanam can be offered here.
Some of the other guidelines laid down by the government are that only male therapists and masseurs can provide treatment to male patients and vice-versa. Only fresh oils and medicines can be used. The name of the centre, licence number and working hours should be prominently displayed at the centre. Also, the centres are required to maintain a register containing the details of the persons who have undergone treatment, along with their case sheets.
Those found violating the guidelines would not only have to pay a hefty penalty—the centre could also be shut down.
Ayurveda outside Kerala
While Kerala is the acknowledged home of Ayurveda, a stress-busting holiday in God’s own country can cause a considerable dent in your wallet when you add the airfares and the room rates. Also, not everybody can afford to take 14-21 days off at a stretch. However, the good news is that the city you live in is likely to have good Ayurveda centres, but you need to choose carefully.
In Delhi, K.R. Subramanyam and his wife are regular visitors to Dr Sudha Asokan’s Ayurveda Kendra in Safdarjung Enclave, taking a week-long rejuvenation package annually. Similarly, those who have visited the Ayush Therapy Centres, a joint collaboration between HLL and AVP, Coimbatore, describe how they are able to sleep better after a half-day session at the centre. Ayush, launched in 2002, has nearly 30 centres spread over eight cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Goa and Kochi).
Almost all the metros have Ayurveda centres run by physicians trained in the old Kerala school. The century-old Arya Vaidya Sala, Kotakkal, has a hospital in Delhi, besides branches in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kochi and elsewhere. But that’s another story, which we promise to bring to you another day.