Ayurveda in Indian Army

As Army Throws Open Doors to Ayurveda, AyurVAID Hospitals Urges Caution

ImageBangalore, Feb 6: Even as the Indian armed forces threw open the doors of top military hospitals to doctors specializing in Ayurveda and other alternative systems of medicine, thanks to the dogged four year long efforts led by city based AyurVAID Hospitals, the move has been received with cautious optimism.

“It is true that the sustained efforts of the stakeholders of Ayurveda has met with some success. But it is only a pyrrhic victory,” said AyurVAID Hospitals CEO Rajiv Vasudevan drawing attention to the AFMS' announcement that the specialists of Indian systems of medicines will be assigned only to select patients.

“While we welcome the steps to initiate pilots and experiments in incorporation of Ayurveda and other systems of medicine to treat Indian soldiers, veterans and their dependants, we urge the AFMS not to be patronizing and restrict access of Ayurveda specialists to terminally ill patients and those with some form of cancer, as has been announced.” he said.

Mr.Vasudevan called upon AFMS to work with an open mind and look at five select chronic diseases and areas of rehabilitation in consensus with AYUSH Department, in areas such as Arthritis, Diabetes, Injury Rehabilitation among many others, and adopt an evidence based approach for evaluation and establishment of Ayurveda as the preferred mode/form of care. He has sought a fair, rational, open, and sincere approach towards Ayurveda by AFMS.

The City based AyurVAID Hospitals had initiated first-of-its-kind online signature campaign in the Ayurveda sector that elicited the support of more than 10,000 signatories via change.org in 2012 (https://www.change.org/p/include-ayurveda-under-indian-armed-forces-medical-reimbursement-rules), and handing over a copy of the petition personally to the then Defence Minister Mr.A.K.Antony along with other eminent stakeholders from the Ayurveda sector.

The online campaign was prompted when the AFMS expressed its inability to include Ayurveda after the Delhi High Court directed it to evaluate if this was possible based on a PIL filed by noted advocate Arjun Harkauli seeking reimbursement of medical expenses for NSG Commando, Shri PV Manesh, who was injured in the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack. (Writ Petition 5511/2011)

Welcoming the step, Mr.Arjun Harkauli said this was exactly what he had sought in his PIL in 2011 and in the signature campaign that followed. Unfortunately there was a lack of sensitivity and desire. “The decision of AFMS is a step in the right direction and will greatly benefit many armed forces personnel who are suffering owing to absence of treatment and cure regime for their conditions in conventional medicine. I am aware that this will not translate into overnight acceptance of Ayurveda and other alternative forms of medicine. But this is an initial step and obviously a lot of checks and balances need to be put in place before we reach those levels,” he added.

Do Not Restrict Us

"This initiation by AFMS is welcome, but it should have been earlier. Further, by restricting Ayurveda to terminal illness care, where Allopathy has failed, the potential of Ayurveda system of medicine shall not be utilised in full. Instead, Ayurveda should be used where it has most potential such as in degenerative diseases, repeated stress injuries suffered by soldiers, immunomodulatory effects, mental stress, rehabilitation, etc."
     - Dr. Rejith Anand, General Secretary, Ayurveda Medical Association of India (AMAI)

ImageThe 2012 campaign was launched when the Director General of AFMS stated his inability before the Delhi High Court to include Ayurveda for the purpose of reimbursement of medical expenses to Indian Armed Forces personnel in the cases of PV Manesh, an NSG Commando who saved 40 lives on 26/11 in Mumbai in an act of selfless service, but a grenade blast left the right side of his body paralysed, and Manesh, a Shaurya Chakra awardee, who regained his speech and certain degree of independent mobility after undergoing classical Ayurveda therapies, and was forced to forced to pay the medical bills themselves.

In its 'INCLUDE AYURVEDA' campaign, AyurVAID Hospitals and its CEO Mr.Rajiv Vasudevan had stressed the need for complementing modern medicine (not mixing) with Ayurveda to comprehensively serve the healthcare needs of (serving and retired) Indian defense personnel and their families, and having a zero tolerance to negative bias towards Ayurveda medical science in the country of its origin and primary practice.