Allowing AYUSH doctors to perform surgeries: Citizens divided over decision

New Delhi: Citizens are divided over Central government's decision to allow postgraduate (PG) scholars of Ayurveda to formally practice general surgery, including ortho and dentistry, with only 14 per cent willing to go to an AYUSH dentist for tooth extraction or Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials (RCT), a survey revealed on Thursday.

The recent notification by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a statutory body under the AYUSH Ministry, to allow AYUSH doctors to train and perform specific surgeries has brought the medical practitioners in the country in a spate of discussions.

The notification maintains that during the period of study, the PG scholars of Shalya and Shalakya would be trained practically to acquaint with as well as to independently perform general surgery procedures so that upon their degree completion, they are able to perform the procedures independently.

Based on issues raised by the people, 'LocalCircles' conducted a survey to guage the opinion of the citizens whether or not they are in favour of AYUSH doctors performing surgeries and if the same were to be permitted, should AYUSH doctors when engaging in such surgeries be permitted to use allopathic antibiotics and anesthesia.

Citizens were asked if when they needed a tooth extraction or root canal treatment, would they be willing to get it from an AYUSH dentist. The survey received more than 28,000 responses from citizens in 303 districts of India and generated a lot of follow-up on queries and discussions among the citizens.

The first question citizens asked,"Do you support the government's recent move of allowing AYUSH doctors to perform surgeries. Notably citizens were divided almost equally on the issue. Of 11,261 responses, 47 per cent of citizens said "Yes" that they support the government notification and 43 per cent said "No" while 10 per cent said "Can't say".

One major takeaway was that people said these doctors are anyway manning ICUs and general wards in many hospitals, especially in smaller towns and rural areas and had learned such skills with hands-on experience, given the acute shortage of doctors in such locations, it is better to have an AYUSH doctor than none.

In the following question people were asked about letting AYUSH doctors use allopathic antibiotics and anesthesia. "If AYUSH Doctors were to perform surgeries, what kind of antibiotics and anesthesia should they be using?"

As many as 9,078 responses were received, of which the majority of 35 per cent of citizens voted that AYUSH doctors should not be allowed to perform surgeries in the first place, 27 per cent said "Let them use whatever they want to", 20 per cent said "Ayush-based" and 13 per cent said "Allopathy-based".

The survey result indicated that 39 per cent are satisfied with AYUSH doctors using allopathic antibiotics and anesthesia for surgeries. This is what the Indian Medical association (IMA) had taken a strong exception, saying that this mixology or mixopathy would cause more problems than solving and that these two streams must be kept separate with the choice available to patients of which practitioner they want to visit.

However, when people were asked about their personal preferences and whether they would visit AYUSH doctors for surgeries via a poll, the results were different. "If you had to get a tooth extraction or a root canal treatment done in the future, what kind of dentist would you visit?", 8,315 responses were received.

Notably 79 per cent said, "BDS or MDS or allopathic-qualified dentist" while 14 per cent said, "AYUSH qualified or trained dentist". Seven per cent could not say at this time.

This indicates that while 48 per cent are supportive of AYUSH doctors being permitted to perform surgeries, only a small section of them are willing to go personally for even a small surgery like tooth extraction or RCT.

This means that while for majority, such a move would help the system in making more doctors available to perform surgeries, they themselves are unwilling to visit AYUSH doctors.

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