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Maharashtra Health Minister resists move to promote acupuncture

Health Minister Deepak Sawant has expressed reservations over the medical standing of acupuncture.

Written by Shubhangi Khapre | Mumbai |
Updated: August 5, 2015 2:35:15 am

A proposal by the Higher and Medical Education Minister Vinod Tawde to recognise acupuncture as a subject and promote it through a legislation, with adequate checks and balances, has met with resistance within the cabinet, particularly from Health Minister Deepak Sawant.

Acupuncture is a therapy where needles are used to cure ailments. The allopathy stream of medicine does not recognise it as a scientific method of cure.

Tawde was in favour of passing a bill in the winter session to ensure recognition and regulation of acupuncture.
Although cabinet ministers expressed readiness to discuss the bill, some questioned its medical standing. Health minister Deepak Sawant, a medical practitioner himself, expressed reservations about any hasty decision to promote acupuncture.

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Highly placed sources said, “Sawant wondered how the state could bring a legislation and accept a theory scientifically not proven or registered as an alternative mode of medicine.”

Acknowledging that acupuncture is prevalent in some places, he said giving it recognition would amount to promoting a theory without scientific base. Tawde says he wants to bring accountability to an alternative theory that is already in practice. A senior official in his ministry said, “We have reports that acupuncture is being practised. But state government has no mechanism to monitor or take any action where things go wrong.”

Officials say the aim of the legislation is to empower the department to act within the set guidelines. The bill, if passed, would enable the government to formulate a governing council and design regulatory laws. Once the framework is in place, acupuncture can be added to the syllabus and it would identify those qualified to practise acupuncture.

Other Cabinet Decisions

* Maharashtra will introduce Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Bill 2011 in state legislature.

* The cabinet also gave the nod to increase retired age for medical officers of Directorate of Health Service and Employees Insurance Scheme from 58 to 60 years.

* To promote industries and employment, financial assistance has been given to three new spinning mills. Of these two are in Marathwada and one in Western Maharashtra

* In the backward regions two new spinning mills have been approved

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