Over a month after its controversial decision to allow homeopathic doctors to prescribe allopathy drugs, the state Cabinet has decided to allow unani and ayurveda practitioners to legally prescribe allopathic drugs and perform minor surgeries. There are more than 70,000 graduate and post-graduate ayurveda and unani practitioners in the state.
The proposal was put forward by the medical education department, even as the law and judiciary department questioned its validity. The medical education department argued that ayurveda and unani doctors were already prescribing allopathy drugs and the proposed move will allow them to do so legally. Additionally, the cabinet also decided to allow post-graduate ayurveda and unani doctors to perform minor surgeries such as cataract, hydrocele, appendix, vasectomy, hysterectomy etc. legally.
A senior official said that following two government notifications in 1992 and 1999, ayurveda and unani practitioners were already prescribing allopathic drugs, albeit with difficulties. “They were facing difficulties in prescribing allopathic drugs as the notifications were not incorporated in the Maharashtra Medical Practitioners Act, 1961. The Act will now be amended to this effect,” said the official.
The department has argued that the move will improve the reach of medical service in rural areas, where 1,983 of the 8,847 posts of doctors under the public health department are vacant at present.
While 25 per cent of posts of medical officers in the public health department are reserved for ayurveda doctors, unani doctors have been making a demand for 10 per cent reservation.
“Both Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery and Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery courses have subjects that cover modern practice of medicine and surgery. Moreover, M.S/M.D (ayurveda) and MS/MD (Unani) will be allowed to perform those surgeries that they have studied,” the official said.
Medical associations have criticised the move. Dr Jayesh Lele, secretary of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Maharashtra chapter, said, “We will challenge the state government’s decision in court. This is a mere election stunt. The government needs to keep the medical field in mind. This will hamper practice of medicine.”
Dr Kishor Taori, president of Maharashtra Medical council (MMC), said, “As per the Medical Council of India norms, a doctor practising a particular branch of medicine cannot practise any other branch. We will not register doctors who wish to prescribe both allopathic and ayurvedic/unani medicines.”