December 19, 2010

MCI relief for integrated medicine practitioners in Maharashtra

The controversy over a letter purportedly written by the Medical Council of India (MCI) asking the state governments to take action under the anti-quackery provision against doctors, who offer integrated medicine, has finally been settled with the MCI clarifying that it never issued such a letter.

Integrated medicine refers to the treatment method that combines traditional Indian systems of medicine (ISM) like ayurveda, unani and siddha, with modern allopathy to cure patients. While ayurveda, unani and siddha fall under the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), allopathy practice is governed by the MCI.

Over 7 lakh integrated medicine practitioners in the country were up in arms over the MCI letter' (dated August 10, 2010) as some state governments, including the administrations in some districts of Maharashtra, had started acting on the letter and taking action against them.

The National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA), which is a body of ayurveda and unani practitioners, had taken up the cause of these doctors and was pursuing the matter with the MCI as well as the CCIM authorities in New Delhi.

The association's prime case was that ISM doctors are institutionally qualified graduates and post-graduates trained in all branches of medicine. The practice is well supported by government resolutions (GRs) issued in 1992 and 1999 under the acts governed by the central and the state councils.

The NIMA had challenged the veracity of the MCI letter' on the grounds that it was full of factual as well as grammatical errors. "It (the letter) appeared to be a case of gross misuse of the MCI letterhead by elements opposed to the Indian systems of medicine," NIMA secretary general V D Tembhurnikar told TOI.

The letter dated August 10 purportedly signed by MCI secretary Lt Col (Retd) A R N Setalvad and addressed to the health secretaries, health directors, district magistrates and superintendent of police of all the states referred to doctors offering integrated medicine as "quacks" and called for a check on them by way of steps like enlisting such medical practitioners, checking their qualifications, status of enrolment for practice of medical profession, etc.

"What was a matter of greater concern for us is that the administration in certain districts like Solapur, Beed, Parbhani and Hingoli had started acting on the basis of this dubious letter, without verifying whether it has indeed been issued by the MCI," said Tembhurnikar. Similar action was also reported by NIMA members from other states like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

On Monday, NIMA officials called a press conference to release the MCI's letter clarifying its position on the issue. They also appealed to the state governments to take note of the MCI position and stop acting against integrated medicine practitioners.

In its letter addressed to the CCIM on November 16, MCI deputy secretary Reena Mayyar has stated: "I am to inform you (CCIM secretary) that as per record available, the Council has not issued circular no MCI/Circular/10/1116-31-32/Anti-Quackery/2010 dated August 10, 2010."

Consequently, the CCIM has issued a letter to the health secretaries as well as health directorates, district magistrates and district superintendents of police of all the state governments, appealing to them not to take note of the dubious MCI letter of August 10' and should not act against integrated medical practitioners.

Link: Original Article

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