Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has pledged governmental support for more integration of Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy and homeopathy alongside allopathic medicine in India, along with a stronger drive towards global recognition of the benefits of Ayurveda, and its acceptance around the world as an evidence-based medicine.

The minister made the announcement last week at an event where he was asked to lay the foundation stone of a ‘Global museum of Ayurveda and Herbal Medicine’ at yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yoga Peeth near Haridwar.

The announcement that the Indian government intends to support complementary therapies like Ayurveda nationally, and raise awareness of their efficacy around the world was certainly timely, and has some heavyweight support. Ayurveda in particular has been receiving backing from well-respected global organisations such as The World Health Organisation (WHO) in recent times. The Minister pointed out that the WHO has already contributed substantially towards the implementation of pharmaco-vigilance measures for Ayurvedic medicines, to ensure their safety.

The organisation has also contributed ‘substantially’ towards the publication of documents supporting Ayurveda, such as the ‘Benchmarks in Ayurveda’ document produced in 2010 which is part of a wider ‘Benchmarks for training in traditional / complementary and alternative medicine’ series. The WHO has also been involved with the preparation of a range of consumer guidelines designed to educate the public about how to use Ayurvedic medicines.

In a news release, the Indian health ministry announced that for the first time since 1947, government health policy would put ‘primary emphasis’ on the Ayurveda siddhanta, with plans already under way for a 100-bed AYUSH (Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homeopathy) hospital at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIIMS) in Rishikesh. It’s planned that every single AIIMS) centre will eventually have a medicine department of which Ayurveda will be a major component.

At the 100-bed AYUSH Hospital (Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) there will also be land set aside for specific use as a medicinal herb cultivation facility to allow standardised production of medicines.

Harsh Vardhan commented that, “The old, allopathic orientation of AIIMS is out of sync with the contemporary trend of integrating indigenous and western forms of cure.

“That is why I wish to give Yoga, along with Ayurveda, unani, siddha and homoeopathy pride of place in the AIIMS system. ‘All the six new AIIMS will be dynamic institutions of integrated medicine in the years to come.”

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