Ayurveda, alternative medicine to get an accreditation nudge

Ayurvedic, homeopathic, Unani and Siddha medicines are gaining popularity in India and abroad due to their perceived minimal side effects
Ayurvedic, homeopathic, Unani and Siddha medicines are gaining popularity in India and abroad due to their perceived minimal side effects

Summary

  • The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) has requested stakeholders’ views on common accreditation standards it plans to issue by June, chief executive Atul Mohan Kochhar said.

Ayurvedic wellness centres, homeopathy clinics and Unani hospitals across the country may soon have integrated accreditation standards, as the government pushes to widen the reach and popularity of alternative medicine.

The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare (NABH) has requested stakeholders’ views on common accreditation standards it plans to issue by June, chief executive Atul Mohan Kochhar said. The decision was taken to ensure ease of business for the wellness centres, he added.

“This is for the first time that a common set of guidelines will be introduced for the Ayurveda-associated hospitals, clinics and wellness centres," Kochhar said in an interview. “AYUSH has got seven disciplines—Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and homeopathy. We already had different set of accreditation guidelines for these disciplines but now, there is going to be only one," he said.

The proposal comes in the wake of the insurance regulator recently bringing AYUSH treatments under health insurance coverage. Starting 1 April, insurers must have board-approved policies outlining their approach towards placing AYUSH treatments at par with other treatments. Currently, there are separate standards for AYUSH disciplines to secure NABH accreditation.

NABH has already framed a draft of the new standards with support from the Ayush ministry and the All India Institute of Ayurveda, and has asked stakeholders to submit their feedback by 15 April. Mint has seen a copy of the NABH notice.

Reji Raj, general manager and senior physician at Amal Tamara Ayurvedic Centre in Kerala, said accreditation will provide guests with an additional layer of assurance, ensuring they receive care that aligns with the highest standards of safety, efficacy, and patient-centredness.

“The necessity for NABH’s Integrated Accreditation Standards for Ayurveda Hospitals stems from the growing demand for standardized and quality healthcare services in the alternative medicine sector. It elevates the credibility of Ayurvedic institutions, highlighting their pivotal role in providing holistic, evidence-based care within the healthcare landscape. By obtaining accreditation, Ayurveda and Naturopathy hospitals can bolster trust and confidence among patients seeking these treatments," he added.

According to Kochhar, Ayush hospitals and clinics are popular in tier-II and III cities, and tourists from abroad visit them for healing and to seek a better lifestyle. “An accreditation will give these centres a stamp of authenticity; also, we will push them to engage in conducting more scientific research and studies. Now, there will be a common standard based on the uniqueness of different categories," Kochhar added.

However, integrated accreditation might lead to confusion, the AYUSH Medical Association (Ayushma) claimed.

“Ayurveda is completely different from naturopathy. All the disciplines have their individual identity and impact on health. If the standards for securing NABH accreditation become the same, it will further lead to confusion, and the requirements might not fit; Ayurveda will need a separate set of standards from Unani," said Ram Avtar Chaudhary, general secretary, Ayushma.

NABH is a constituent board of Quality Council of India, set up to establish and operate accreditation programmes for healthcare organizations.As per the Ayush ministry, India has 3,844 Ayush hospitals under various categories.

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