Section 26
Chapter 25,345

Rationalization of medicine in India

Chopra, R.N.

Current Science 17(1): 12


ISSN/ISBN: 0011-3891
PMID: 18911579
Accession: 025344082

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Hindu medicine dates from the Ayurveda, 2000 B, C, and by the time of the development of Greek medicine had produced works in anatomy, medicine, surgery, gynecology, obstetrics, dietetics, and materia medica. Human dissections were practiced, physiological theory was attempted, immunity to smallpox by action of cowpox was known, and anesthetics were admd. Decline set in almost 2000 yrs. ago, and eventually Arabic medicine, with its background from Greece and Rome, became the state-supported system. The recent introduction of Western medicine, with its efficient surgery and systematized materia medica, won wide favor and has somewhat penetrated all classes. However, the indigenous medical systems (Ayurvedic and Yunan-Tibbi) have popular followings and many intelligent practitioners. Some of these latter regard their medical knowledge as of divine origin and thus unchangeable (not realizing that their system actually has been changed, by loss of much of its knowledge) but others realize that Western medicine is in many ways superior and that the fusion of the good points of all systems is necessary; the obstacles are prejudices and lack of finances. Vast numbers of the indigenous practitioners, however, are drug-peddlers with no training, but will remain as long as the people can afford no better. In actuality, outside of the medical schools and large hospitals, many of the "Western" doctors, in their irrational empiricism, are little better than many of the indigenous prac-titioners. This partial failure of Western medicine in India results directly from lack of governmental financial support of public health, medical school education, and medical research. Considering circumstances as existing in India, the wisest course would be to take many incoming students plus many of the thousands of indigenous practitioners and give them basic training in the principles of Western medicine, including public health, in addition to present training in the native systems (since large parts of the populace will have only a "native" doctor). Such men would then be qualified to handle minor troubles (the bulk of public practice), could educate the people in public health, and would be educated enough to know their limitations. A total synthesis will take a long time, during which scientific investigation of the indigenous materia medica (probably its most valuable contribution) can be conducted. Financial support from the government is essential to such a program.

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