Centre's latest medical reforms, policy decisions: IMA to protest

New Delhi: After farmers, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) - which represents doctors practising modern system of medicine in the country - has now opened a front against the Centre and announced a series of protests and other steps to oppose government actions and policies in the filed of health and medical education.

The apex association of private practitioners of modern medicine plans to hold public demonstrations by its members, nationwide withdrawal of health services from non- emergency and non-COVID areas and a legal recourse.

Its move comes after the government brought about amendments and introduction of policies in medical education which it believes would lead to 'catastrophic' effect in the world of modern medicine.

"Demonstrations in small groups of 20 will be held between noon and 2 pm on on December 8 by following COVID protocols. Withdrawal of all non-essential, non-COVID services between 6 am and 6 pm will be done on December 11. Further operational guidelines will follow soon," an IMA document read.

The IMA directed its members "to seek the help and support of sister professional organisations, government doctors' and hospital associations, RDAs, medical college teachers' associations, and medical students to participate in the protest.

The decisions were taken in an emergency meeting on Monday. IMA President Dr Rajan Sharma confirmed that protest demonstrations were planned but did not divulge the details. "The modalities are being worked out," he added.

Commenting on the need for such actions, Sharma said that the situation has arisen wherein the doctors have to fight to "save the honour of the profession".

"We represent the community which provides 70% of the healthcare to this nation. The government is aiming to create a 'mixopathy' of all the streams of medicine, which will finish off all of them. We cannot let that happen. We will fight against it tooth and nail," he told IANS.

The IMA plans agitation over three issues whose repercussions they plan to bring forth in the public domain -- latest amendment by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) that allowed Ayurvedic postgraduate students to receive formal training to perform 66 types of medical procedures like general surgery, orthopaedic, ophthalmology, ENT, and dental procedures and surgeries.

Another issue is National Education Policy 2020, which proposes to phase out all institutions offering single streams and that all universities and colleges must aim to become multidisciplinary by 2040.

The IMA's concern is that it will abolish dedicated health universities and blend modern medicine curriculum with Ayurveda, Naturopathy, Unani, Homeopathy, Siddha and vice versa by 2030 which, if implemented, will end up polluting the streams of both traditional/alternate and modern medicine systems.

It is also envisaged in 'One Nation, One System' concept of the central government. NITI Aayog has already formed four committees to formulate policies on integrative medical education, practice, public health and research. The IMA believes the move is a 'khichdi' (rice porridge) which would produce 'khichdi' doctors.

The association would demand the withdrawal of the CCIM notification and dissolution of the four committees formed by the NITI Aayog, the IMA document stated.

Sharma asserted that the IMA was not against Ayurveda but the undermining of the modern medicine by the Centre. "Such actions will not just kill the legacy of modern medicine but also pollute the sanctity of Ayurveda system. It will lead to confrontation between modern and traditional forms of medicine. Let every form thrive," he said.

"In ancient times, the procedures were simple. With the passage of time, science has evolved and demands specialisation. The complex procedures such as laparoscopic, cataract surgeries demand years of theoretical knowledge and training. We are proud of our heritage, but we are also practical enough to realise that Sushruta did not invent all these things. We are not against Ayurveda and other disciplines but these are recent inventions. Where are they going to get the equipment and drugs and educational training? They are poaching on modern medicine. A country that closes its eyes to scientific temperament and research is calling for doomsday," Sharma told IANS.

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