National Knowledge Commission
हिन्दी বাংলা অসমীয়া অসমীয়া ಕನ್ನಡ
ارد و தமிழ் नेपाली মণিপুরী ଓଡ଼ିଆ ગુજરાતી

  Traditional Knowledge

Dated 12 December 2007

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

The current global health sector trends suggest that medical pluralism, to which Indian traditional medical systems can contribute critical components, will shape the future of healthcare. This shift from singularity to plurality is taking place because it is becoming increasingly evident that no single source of health science has the capacity to contribute solutions to all of societys health needs. India has a comparative advantage and can be a world leader in the era of medical pluralism because it has strong foundations in evidence-based biomedical sciences as well as an immensely rich and complex indigenous medical heritage of its own. The Government has already undertaken and encouraged several initiatives in the area of traditional medicine within the country including establishment of the Department of AYUSH in the Ministry of Health and creating support programs in S&T agencies like CSIR, ICMR, DBT & DST. To accelerate this momentum, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) consulted extensively with diverse stakeholders within the related fields and also constituted a Working Group of researchers, private sector representatives and policy-makers. Our recommendations on strategies to promote the knowledge systems of traditional medicine are as follows:

1. Transform traditional medicine education: The quality of and access to education in traditional medicine in the country needs urgent improvement. There are currently 450 poorly endowed colleges (undergraduate and post-graduate) admitting around 25,000 students in the country. These colleges are not training students to play leadership roles in the emerging era of medical pluralism. The major reason for this lacuna is that education in traditional medicine fails to provide the transformational catalysis necessary to link traditional medical system sources to evidence-based approaches. This has led to isolation of such education and lack of its pluralistic integration into mainstream evidence-based medicine education, which is essential if Indias traditional medical heritage is to find its rightful place in global medical pluralism.

It is recommended that efforts be made to introduce evidence-based approaches into the current educational framework, possibly through institutions of the standard of IISc, IITs and AIIMS with commensurate financial outlays.

2. Strengthen research on traditional health systems: Investments in research and development of traditional medicine have been sub-critical and fragmented resulting in scarcity of evidence about the efficacy of THS. In addition, these efforts have also been frequently characterized by a lack of rigorous evidence-based approaches. There has also been little appreciation of the role that social science research must play in comprehending the variety of societal perceptions and responses so critical to ideas of medical pluralism. There is a need to urgently establish a network of world-class research programmes in different parts of the country to address these lacunae, with appropriate institutional and incentive structures. It is essential for India to make original, rigorously evidence-based contributions to the world of medicine in fields such as pharmaco-genomics, immunology, drug discovery and cardiology via imaginative examination of traditional ideas such as prakrti, rasayana or rasa.




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