Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Ayurvedic Treatment under Mediclaim - As published in Times of India

Insurance companies' latest move to include alternative forms of treatment, such as ayurveda, is unfortunate in the extreme. Traditional medicines will promote quackery in general, when the need is to provide people access to scientifically proven medical treatments. While practitioners of traditional medicine practices may invoke historical and cultural continuity, this form of treatment is not medically ideal.

To begin with, there is absolutely no scientific basis for the supposed efficacy of traditional medicines. Often, their basic principles run contrary to the established axioms of medical science. More worrying, however, is that these medicines fail to adhere to quality and standards tests for production. Not surprisingly, even the WHO doesn't currently recommend these practices. This is when the UN agency has been at the forefront of the worldwide efforts to explore the potential of traditional medicine systems. The EU ban on the sale of ayurvedic and other herbal medicines as a response to growing concern over their adverse effects is another case in point. On top of it all, traditional medical practitioners may not be certified or licensed.

Compare this to conventional medicines, which undergo rigorous and controlled lab tests to meet international standards. Most importantly, their regimens are prescribed by properly trained and registered doctors. Given that ayurvedic treatments are cheaper compared to allopathy, insurers can discriminate in claims and reimbursements, pushing more and more people towards unproven remedies. Besides, ayurveda's inclusion may lead to demands for similar recognition for other traditional therapies such as faith healing or treatment by witch doctors. It's time to draw the line somewhere.


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