Mumbai: Trying to boost India’s Ayurveda, yoga and other traditional health-care systems, the National Knowledge Commission on traditional medicine has recommended establishment of a 10-year national mission on traditional health sciences of India and an initial investment of Rs1,000 crore.
The mission would mainly focus on creating teaching and research institutes for traditional health sciences along the lines of the Indian Institute of Science and Indian Institute of Technology, setting up a comprehensive informatics programme, digitizing India’s medicinal manuscripts and supporting a major science initiative on Ayurveda, among others.
A summary of the recommendations made by a working group set up by the National Knowledge Commission, which was reviewed by Mint, says the mission is proposed because, “as the global health sector trends suggest that medical pluralism, within which traditional systems of Indian medicine should form a critical component, will shape the future of health care.”
“It is becoming increasingly evident that no single system of health care has the capacity to solve all of society’s health needs,” says B.S. Sajwan, a member of the working group and the chief executive of India‘s National Medicinal Plant Board. According to him, the mission aims to create access to treatments of traditional systems in all leading hospitals across the country, besides many other global promotional activities for the Indian systems of medicine.
The commission has also suggested that the proposed national mission on traditional health science should present a 10-year plan with a measurable milestones within six months of being set up.
“The government of India should also make an allocation of Rs1,000 crore towards the operationalization of the mission over a period of five years,” the National Knowledge Commission paper suggests.
The traditional knowledge informatics programme envisaged in the mission would collate about 2,000 species of medicinal plants linked to their clinical applications and products. It would also establish a major programme for digitization of India’s medical manuscripts located both in India and abroad, and make this digital library accessible to teaching and research purposes in India. The data in the library, translated into five major international languages, would also be made accessible to global patent search to protect the country’s traditional knowledge from getting patented by others.
Traditional approach: Workers doing yoga to de-stress at their workplace in Noida, UP. The Knowledge Commission favours a national mission to focus on research institutes to boost traditional health sciences.
The mission’s initial programme would also include creating four important academic and research institutions for Indian systems of medicines.
The other service goals of the mission include establishing clinical standardization of 10 best traditional health products targeted for global markets, through public-private partnership, and upgrading 50 traditional health service hospitals into institutions for clinical research and healthcare services.
Besides, the national mission would also support companies that can develop an international brand identity for traditional health-care system, to establish worldwide network of clinical services.
The knowledge commission also suggests that the programme create a world-class certification institution that can assist Indian system of medicines industry, hospitals and research institutions to achieve internationally acceptable standards for product research, manufacturing and plantation.
“India’s health care pundits seem to be infusing a healthy dose of ‘lateral thinking’ in the face of India’s diverse healthcare requirements,” notes Ayesha Shoukat who tracks traditional knowledge and related intellectual property issues.