Ayurveda is witnessing good times and the AYUSH sector is providing all the necessary support to take Ayurveda forward. In this engaging conversation with Kesevendrakumar IAS, Secretary, Department of AYUSH, shares with us the different projects in the pipeline for the AYUSH sector and the status of Ayurveda and Yoga in Kerala.
What are the plans for strengthening AYUSH in Kerala?
AYUSH already has a good presence in Kerala. The effective implementation of the various programs as envisaged in the guidelines in vogue will further strengthen it. The National AYUSH Mission in Kerala is the first in the country to setup the District based Program Management and Support Units for optimum delivery of its services to the society. By filling the gaps in this sector we will support the department by providing the necessary infrastructure and manpower.
A few projects for specialty care by AYUSH system of medicine are:-
- “Rareeram” – Ante-natal and Post-natal and Neo-natal care by Ayurveda in selected districts
- “Mizhi” – A project for correcting refractive errors among children below 12 years by Netra Chiktsa, a part of Salakya Thantra (Ophthalmology and ENT) of Ayurveda
- “Harsham” – Clinics for managing depression with the support of Govt. Ayurveda Research Institute for Mental Health, Kottakkal in selected 5 districts of Kerala
- “Prism”– A project for preventing blindness caused by Glaucoma, and other eye diseases at Thrissur
- “Ayureda Ano-Rectal Clinic” at District Hospital, Kalpetta, Wayanad etc.
- “AYURKARMA” – A project to provide OP level treatment procedures in Govt. Ayurveda Dispensary, Chavara, Kollam. This new initiative and is supposed to scale up in all districts in the future.
- “AYUSH GRAM” – promotes AYUSH-based lifestyles through Behavioral Change Communication. This has been approved in the Annual Action Plan 2016-17 in eight districts. It created brilliant models in outreach activities, Medicinal Plant propagation, conservation and cultivation and teaching good food habits among pregnant and lactating mothers. In communicable diseases prevention and source reduction, it assists in preventing vector borne diseases. AYUSH GRAMs also developed value added products and popularized it among the public. Performance of AYUSH GRAM projects has drawn appreciation from various sectors.
SKOCH Award for innovations in Government Sector was awarded to AYUSH GRAM, Thrissur in 2018. Considering the benchmarks created by AYUSH GRAM projects in Kerala, Government of India has sanctioned eight more AYUSH GRAMs to the state in its Annual Action Plan 2018-19.
- 14 AYUSH Wellness Centres including Yoga and Naturopathy. A Yoga training programme was conducted as a corrective measure for women prisoners in district Jail, Trivandrum.
- “Kanya Jyothi” a project for addressing anemia among tribal women using the Siddha system of Medicine are the other projects under ISM Department funded by NAM.
- “Seethalayam” – a gender based programme for the mental and physical ailments of women suffering from domestic violence.
- “Sadgamaya” – focuses on behavior management and screening of learning disabilities in the various NCD clinics in the 14 districts. These are the ongoing Homoeopathic projects by NAM.
- “Thyroid Clinics” at Idukki to address the Thyroid spectrum disorders. Asthma and Allergy Clinics at Thrissur and Malappuram by Homoeopathic system are the new projects that got approval in 2018-19
The International Yoga Day held by the AYUSH Ministry was a great success. Considering this, how can you popularize Yoga in Kerala?
Yoga plays a key role in maintaining a society with less morbidity. Yoga practice is taken to the grassroot level through NAM (National AYUSH Mission) programs like AYUSH GRAM, AYUSH Wellness Centres, integrated hospitals etc. Most of the Ayurveda and Homoeopathic Hospitals are conducting daily sessions in Yoga as a part of their NCD (non-communicable disease) prevention programmes. ASHA workers are trained with modules on NCD prevention and are working towards propagating Yoga at grassroot levels.
What is the status of Yoga in Kerala? Does it have a mass acceptance in Kerala?
Yoga is well accepted in Kerala and this initiates a good health culture among the people of this land. In Kerala, Yoga is a component in most schools too. Also, panchayath based community units here, are now seeking training in Yoga through NAM programs.
One of the vision of AYUSH is to allot new yoga educational institutions. How will you achieve this goal?
The scope for a Yoga & Naturopathy academic institution in Kerala will be studied and necessary steps will be taken in future.
Naturopathy, Unani and Sidhha are yet to be popular in Kerala. What is the reason?
These AYUSH systems need to be popularized based on the requirements of the society. The areas or specialties in which these systems are stronger than the prevalent systems have to be highlighted to make them more sought after.
Ayurveda is one of the highly accepted treatment methods in Kerala. Keeping this in mind, are there any plans for the AYUSH Ministry to attract international tourists to Kerala as this can add to the country’s foreign exchange?
The Department of AYUSH has already planned to conduct an International AYUSH Conclave (IAC) to showcase and promote these systems. The upcoming IAC is scheduled from 25 to 28 January 2019 in Kochi. IAC has a list of conclave orators, panelists and experts who are working in different areas like Clinical Research, Drug Research and Public Health Delivery. Apart from this, a session on Infrastructure development in AYUSH based Health Tourism focused on Ayurveda will discuss the possibilities of Ayurveda, its propagation to attract International Tourists to Kerala as it is known as the heart land of Ayurveda. These forums, create an opportunity for propagating Kerala’s preparedness to meet the requirements of international clients who seek wellness or cure for illness through Ayurveda Medical Tourism.