Published On : Fri, May 22nd, 2020

Maharashtra could soon have an AYUSH policy for COVID-19

NEW DELHI: After repeated reminders from the central ministry, Maharashtra could finally put in place an Ayush strategy to fight Covid-19. Maharashtra is among the last states to have an official policy on using traditional medicines among the methods to prevent the spread of coronavirus and to improve the immunity of its citizens.

Nearly 12 states in the country, including Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan, are actively using Ayurvedic, homeopathic and Unani medicines in Covid-19 care. Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat have also taken measures to use Ayush for asymptomatic contacts of Covid-19 patients. Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh had also done mass distribution of Ayurvedic concoctions as an attempt to boost the immunity of people, while Rajasthan and Delhi distributed special Ayush kits to policemen and frontline workers.

Maharashtra’s National Health Mission commissioner Anup Yadav told ET that the state “did not want to adopt any strategy by just going with claims and wanted proper consultations to be held on the utility of Ayush drugs”. “In Maharashtra people take traditional medicines as and when they want. But we didn’t have an official policy as such for prevention of Covid-19. Recently, our experts found that some of the Ayush recommendations can be useful, at least of asymptomatic patients, so we have decided to deliberate more on that,” said Yadav.

Ayush ministry officials, however, slammed Maharashtra for the delay and said it was probably politics that prevented the state from going for Ayurveda or other traditional forms of boosting immunity. “Many states such as Kerala, MP and Haryana have improved their recovery rate with Ayush measures,” said an official, who did not wish to be identified. Several Ayush practitioners from Maharashtra had also stressed the need for the state to go for traditional immunity boosting drugs, with the number of Covid-19 cases rapidly increasing to the highest in the country.

The state has set up an 18-member task force to plan and suggest treatment of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic patients through Ayush drugs and concoctions. Tatyarao Lahane, director, Medical Education and Research, Maharashtra, will head the task force Sanjay Mukherjee, secretary, Medical Education and Drugs ,said the task force will determine if there is need for an official policy and if there is one, what it should be. “Ayush recommendations have to be assessed scientifically. As there is no concept of clinical trial or randomised control trial, there has to be a marriage between traditional medicines and conventional medical care,” he said. “When a person is getting treated, there is a lot of restriction on what he can consume. So the task force will list out points on how people can be guided.”