Friday, 13 May 2011

IAF plans to challenge the legality of THMPD in UK court

With an intend to show displeasure over the ban of all ayurvedic products in the European Union through the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD), the International Ayurveda Foundation (IAF) will soon initiate legal proceedings under Article 234 EC in the Courts of the United Kingdom challenging the legality of the THMPD.

The IAF has prepared a 200 pages lengthy report based on three arguments. The first argument will be challenging the legality of how does the directive become a law since it is in contravention with lots of existing laws in EU. The second will be focusing on how EU is violating the European human rights legislation, and the third argument will be focused on how EU is violating the existing protocol of WTO treaty through this directive.

According to Praful Patel, general secretary, IAF they will be fighting either both of the first three suites together or one by one separately. However, he informed that only the Indian government is legally authorised to challenge in the third case since its a WTO matter. As of now the IAF is in talks with the barristers from the EU on these matter so that they can take this issue ahead, whereas, they are subsequently planning to have meeting with its advisors on Ayurveda soon.

Patel informs, “It is necessary to challenge the EU directive because if it remains unchallenged there is a good chance that even other countries like US, Australia, Canada may follow suit and ban the traditional medicines in their respective countries as well. If this happens, it will be a disaster for the five billion worth Indian ayurvedic industry.”

He said that it is a shame that the Indian government did not take any steps in this matter till now and that it does not have the political will to highlight the Indian issue at an international level. IAF has been advocating this issue from last seven years and got a lukewarm response from every sector. However, Patel is hopeful that things will change fast and the industry will rope in their support by providing financial help as well.

He pointed out that there is only one permanent solution to this critical issue and that is to suspend the directive with immediate effect and have a separate directive or law that would recognise the traditional systems of medicines like Ayurveda as a separate entity. “Most importantly, we want the EU to take suggestions from the Indian government, IAF, etc while framing the law. It is important that individual systems should have recognised statutes since over 25 millions of people in Europe use traditional medicines,” added Patel.

Criticising the EU directive he said that the move to ban traditional medicines is an outcome of powerful European herbal lobby and will only lead to illegal use of medicines.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stricter norms for colleges of traditional medicine

In order to ensure the quality of education to the students of Indian system of medicines and prevent mushrooming growth of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) and Homoeopathic Colleges, the Centre has issued stricter parameters for granting permission for setting up or upgrading the existing colleges.

From this academic year (2011-02), the Department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) has increased the requirement of minimum availability of teachers for under graduate colleges of ASU system from 28 to 32 teachers. In addition, there is now a mandatory requirement of one teacher in all the 14 departments of Ayurveda colleges, 8 departments of Unani colleges and 14 departments of Siddha colleges.

The new registration system has been introduced because many colleges were not complying with the guidelines specified for imparting AYUSH education with some of them attempted to indulge in unfair practices to project availability of infrastructure and teachers, Anil Kumar Secretary, department of AYUSH told reporters here on Tuesday.

India has 499 colleges teaching the Indian system of medicine — 311 colleges for Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha and 188 colleges teaching homeopathy — which will have to follow the new registration system from 2011 academic year.

In view of the improvement in the availability of the higher faculties it has now also been decided to insist upon having minimum 10 teachers in the rank of professors of readers for admission capacity up to 50 students in Ayurveda colleges.

“By 2011 end, the Centre would bring out a gazette notification stipulating the levels of hard and soft infrastructure the colleges should have to receive the recognition. Once the new norms are notified, all colleges will have to follow it,’’ he said.

At present, colleges teaching Indian system of medicine and homeopathy require annual approval to admit new students. With the new notification, the government plans to do away with the annual inspection system. The notification would make it mandatory for all colleges to have the stipulated facilities and faculty.

The new norms, Mr. Kumar said, would be applicable for the current academic year though they are most likely to be retained or strengthened in the final notification expected by the end of this year which would be applicable from the next academic year. The hospitals, too, should be a properly functional one and not a proxy set up created solely for the purpose of inspection.

Since all medical colleges in the alternate system too are required to have a functional hospital, the inspection team would have to look at the patient records like pathological and radiological diagnostics, diet and medicine chart to determine if the hospital is really functional or not.

Keywords: AYUSH, alternative medicine, traditional medicine, regulation