While the state government continues to promote further research in AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) for Covid-19 treatment, only 1% of AYUSH doctors in Maharashtra have signed up for Covid duty so far.The Indian Medical Association (IMA), an association of allopaths, has criticised the health department for being biased. Civic officials said they have asked AYUSH doctors to join duty but most have cited reasons, including family problems, not being in Mumbai or working elsewhere.
The AYUSH ministry had, in April, conducted online Covid training courses for 1.5 lakh Ayush doctors, of whom one lakh undertook online sessions. But a mere one per cent have volunteered for Covid duty during the ongoing pandemic, with 500 being posted at Covid Care Centres (CCC).
“We have a list of 1,500 AYUSH doctors who have been assigned Covid duties across the state,” said Dr Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary of the Medical Education and Drug Department (MEDD).
There are around 90,000 registered AYUSH doctors across the state, with 25,000 of them in Mumbai. But it is learnt that most of them are not interested in helping the government at this time. While AYUSH doctors may not be directly involved in treating patients on ventilators, they can take care of mild and moderate corona cases.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president of the Indian Medical Association (Maharashtra), said if allopaths could be sent notices for not signing up for Covid duty, why not AYUSH doctors? Everyone is aware of a shortage of doctors, from Mumbai to the state. In such a situation, even after obtaining training, it is disappointing to see only 1,500 AYUSH doctors come forward. “The government should immediately send notices to such people. In order to overcome the shortage of doctors, we have several times suggested to the Directorate of Medical Education and Medical Research to enlist AYUSH doctors,” said Dr Bhondwe.
He further said, recently, the state government had approved research on coronavirus by AYUSH doctors. Moreover, they have suggested Ayurvedic medicines to help cure patients. "So, why doesn't the government set up a separate ward or makeshift hospitals for them to conduct research and use these medicines on Covid patients? Ayush doctors should open their clinics and try their medicines on patients, to know whether these are effective or not,” felt Dr Bhondwe.
Dr Kuldeep Kohli, director of AYUSH, Maharashtra, said, “We were asked to give online training to 1.5 lakh doctors and accordingly, in April, such sessions were conducted and certificates given to them. But we are not in charge of their posting. It is done by the DMER and we do not know how many of them are on Covid duty or not.”