Invigorating the Ayush industry

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Context: The Ayush industry in India can provide cost-effective healthcare to people across States. It has all the ingredients of success, to co-exist with the modern health systems, as a choice-based system of traditional medicine.

The article lists out measures that can be implemented to reinvigorate the Ayush Ministry.

China’s example wrt its traditional medicine sector

The global market for herbal medicine was valued at $657.5 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow to $746.9 billion in 2022.

The Healthy China 2030 plan forecasts that the value of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) market may reach $737.9 billion within China and globally by 2030.

The growth of the TCM industry in China is attributed to the immense attention the sector has received in the country.

– In 1982, the Constitution of China gave full recognition to TCM.

Since 2009, there has been continuous support for TCM in health policies. China has focused upon developing quality infrastructure for TCM to co-exist with modern medicine under the same roof.

What has been the progress of the Indian Ayush sector over the years?

The Indian Ayush sector has grown by 17% between 2014 and 2020.

– Related segments such as plant derivatives grew by 21%, plant extracts by 14.7%, and herbal plants by 14.3% during the same period.

What measures have been taken in India to promote Ayush systems?

In India, the National Ayush Mission (NAM) was launched in 2014 by the Department of Ayush, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to promote Ayush systems and address the needs of the sector in a comprehensive way.

– Objectives of NAM: a) Providing cost-effective services, b) strengthening educational systems, c) quality control of drugs and d) sustainable availability of raw materials.

The industry is projected to reach $23.3 billion in 2022, according to a Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), 2021, report. The Indian herbal medicine market is worth $18.1 billion.

Under the ‘Medicinal Plants’ component of the NAM scheme (2015–16 to 2020–21), the cultivation of prioritised medicinal plants in identified clusters/zones is being supported. For the cultivation of plants, subsidies at 30%, 50% and 75% of the cultivation cost for 140 medicinal plants are being provided.

Further, last year it was announced that medicinal plants will be cultivated on 75,000 hectares of land.

The Ministry of Finance has also announced a ₹4000-crore package under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan for the promotion of herbal cultivation.

Prime Minister laid the foundation of the WHO-Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar on April 19, 2022. This will be the first and only global outpost centre for traditional medicine across the world.

What is the way forward?

The Ayush sector requires a multi-dimensional push, ranging from initiatives at the institutional level, massive awareness and promotion of cultivation of medicinal plants by farmers, to trade-related interventions and quality focus measures.

Strengthen SMPBs: The National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB) implements the medicinal plant component of Ayush through state bodies—State Medicinal Plant Boards (SMPBs).

The organisational structure of SMPBs needs to be strengthened. They should have experts for conservation, cultivation, R&D, herbal garden etc.

On the trade front, developing comprehensive databases on Ayush trade, products and raw materials is needed.

Expansion of HS national lines to accommodate various features of traditional medicine and medicinal plant products based on existing requirements is required to provide more comprehensive trade data on Ayurvedic products. To date, most ISM (Indian System of Medicine) products, herbal products and medicinal plants products are not identified under specific HS (Harmonised system) codes.

Integrative medicine: NITI Aayog has already constituted a committee and four working groups on integrative medicine, to provide deeper insights and recommendations in the areas of education, research, clinical practice and public health and administration.

Integration of Ayush systems into mainstream systems will certainly give wider acceptance for traditional systems of the country.

Source: This post is based on the article “Invigorating the Ayush industry” published in The Hindu on 2nd May 22.

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