COVID-19 patients resort to Ayurveda for treatment, Kerala's Ayush secretary faces wrath of practitioners

THIRUVANNATHAPURAM: Following the support of ayurveda and yoga by the state government for the care of asymptomatic patients with COVID and those under Category A the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine (ISM) said there was an overwhelming public response.

Different ISM institutions have been overwhelmed with queries regarding the mode of care and medication available, according to the department.

At the same time, the delay in implementing the National Clinical Management Protocol based on ayurveda and yoga for the management of COVID-19 (NCP-AY) in the state disgruntles Ayush practitioners. They point their fingers at Sharmila Mary Joseph, Secretary of State for Ayush, in this regard the response has been encouraging so far. According to the programme, with the help of ayurveda/yoga, the condition of COVID patients, who are either asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, can be controlled. However it is up to the patient concerned whether or not he/she wants to opt for it, said an ISM officer.

Ayurveda/yoga techniques to treat uncomplicated COVID patients will be introduced through the Ayur Raksha Clinics (ARC) as per the programme. If the patient is in isolation at home, the medical officer in charge of the ARC will supervise it. A separate nodal officer may be named for the same officer if the patient is admitted to CFLTC/CSLTC.

"The management done using ayurveda/yoga is based on NCP-AY. But the state itself had chalked out Strategies for Implementation of Ayurveda in Prevention, Mitigation and Rehabilitation that focuses on locally specific ayurveda formulations and traditional medicines. This will be incorporated in the NCP-AY. All such interventions will be properly documented," said an ARC-responsible medical officer.

A National Ayush Mission officer alleged that the Secretary of the Ayush had attempted to sabotage the implementation of ayurvedic treatment for COVID-19. It is pointed out that while on October 9 she had obtained instructions from the Ayush Ministry to use ayurveda and yoga in COVID-19 management, on October 20 the officer went on to issue a circular banning practitioners from prescribing any COVID cure drugs.

Associations such as the Ayurveda Medical Officers' Federation of the Kerala Government and the Ayurveda Medical Association of India opposed the move, with the latter taking up the issue with the High Court of Kerala and the chief minister.

"The order on Wednesday that allowed ayurveda and yoga for managing COVID patients was issued as a result of the High Court's intervention. From the beginning, the secretary's attitude towards Ayush was not at all encouraging. Now a representation has been made to the chief minister asking him to replace the present state Ayush secretary with someone interested in promoting the Ayush sector," she added.

In the meantime, on an observation made by the Supreme Court the other day, an official of the ISM Department raised concern that anyone might not be permitted to prescribe medicines.




The observation of the apex court on Thursday came while hearing an appeal against the order of the Kerala High Court which claimed that AYUSH medical practitioners can only prescribe authorised government mixtures and tablets as an immunity booster for COVID-19.