The aims of the agreement are to establish the exchange and accommodation of experts in the fields of homoeopathy and traditional medicines. These experts will be used in the training of practitioners, paramedics, scientists, teaching professionals and students in both countries.
The deal will also include the standardisation and mutual recognition of homoeopathic practices and qualifications between the two nations. This will include the regulation of teaching, practice, drugs and drugless therapies as well as the appointment of academic chairs within both countries.
The MoU is due to be signed by India’s Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine.
The MoU comes at a time when AYUSH are facing conflicting views. On one hand AYUSH is being spread on a global level, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates declaring their intention to become an international hub of traditional medicine.
Contrasting this, the Indian government is facing controversy and criticism domestically over its promotion of AYUSH. A potential bill was recently announced that could seek to allow AYUSH graduates the ability to practice modern medicine after completing a short “bridge course”. Doctors went onstrike over the issue, claiming that a homoeopathic course is not comparable to a medical degree. Some have claimed the bill could allow for government licensed quackery.
Despite global criticism, India has continued to both acknowledge and invest in homoeopathy. In September India opened a state-of-the art laboratory at Kolkata’s Dr Anjali Chatterjee Regional Research Institute for Homoeopathy (RRIH). The focus of the laboratory was the research of homoeopathic remedies for viral diseases. This concept has never before been explored in academic science.
India is seeing an increase in interest and investment in AYUSH treatments. In 2017 an eight percent budget rise was allocated for the AYUSH Ministry to provide and promote the use of alternative treatments. The total budget for the 2017-18 financial year was Rs 1,428.65 crore. The majority of the budget has been allocated to the provision of alternative treatment. The remaining budget is set to be used for promotion and research.
Despite criticism that it amounts to a legitimisation of pseudoscience – with potential risks for public health – alternative medicine may be one of India’s major health exports in years to come, alongside generic medicines. It may also inspire others to come to India for homoeopathic treatment, with alternative medicine potentially becoming a component of the country’s emerging medical tourism industry.