Public health perspectives in cross-system practice: past, present and future
Cross-system practice is widely prevalent in Indian settings. The recent policy decisions of the Government of India and the legalisation of cross-system practice in various states have brought this issue into the limelight once again. We aim to critically evaluate this issue from the philosophical, academic, and public health perspectives, as well as with reference to training. On the one hand, students of traditional Indian medicine are being introduced to allopathy without philosophical backing, practice based on the aetiological model and training in modern pharmacology. In addition, pharmaceutical industries are wooing AYUSH practitioners and their prescription patterns have already been “allopathised”. As for the allopathic system, it is witnessing enormous scientific advances and growing increasingly complicated. The medicines are risky and also associated with many life-threatening side-effects. Meanwhile, the government is grappling with the humungous problem of ensuring health services for all. The government’s intention is to expand the reach of health services by allowing cross-system practice, but the issue has much wider ramifications. The authors believe that before cross-system practice is allowed, there is a need for a comprehensive and deeper understanding of all the benefits and pitfalls of such as system. A few of these are discussed in this article. Specifically, we delve into the philosophical issues, syllabus and training, advances in medical technology, and larger public health perspectives. We end by suggesting a few steps that may help to improve public health in the country.
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