India is taking a big leap to promote alternative medicine and opening 12,500 centres is a significant step in this direction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.
Promoting alternative medicine practices has been a major tenet of the Central government’s vision for healthcare since the BJP came to power in 2014, with the Union Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) being established to facilitate this. The announcement of the new centres – 4,000 of which are expected to be built this year – comes on the heels of Union AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik calling for the establishment of 12,500 such wellness centres in February to provide access to AYUSH services.
To mark the announcement, Modi inaugurated ten AYUSH centres in Haryana via videoconferencing and took the opportunity to share his own experiences practising AYUSH. “I will tell you one secret,” he said, “I do yoga, pranayam and bank upon Ayurveda. I make full use of these.” Of Haryana Chief Minister Lal Khattar, reportedly contending with a sore throat, the Prime Minister advised, “now that Ayush and wellness centres have been inaugurated in Haryana, I will tell Khattar ji to get his throat treated there.”
Modi also took the opportunity to reflect on the recently announced Fit India movement and how AYUSH practices such as yoga will have a significant role to play in it. An ardent advocate of yoga, Modi was instrumental in convincing the United Nations General Assembly to adopt an International Day of Yoga. Modi has been keen to promote AYUSH abroad, advocating it at this year’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
In-line with the government’s efforts to promote it AYUSH is enjoying greater popularity in India. Increasing number of Indians are seeking Ayurvedic and homoeopathic treatment. It was reported last year that a fifty percent rise in the number of people seeking homoeopathic treatments had been observed in the previous five years. In 2017, 77 percent of households in India used Ayurvedic products whilst 69 percent used them in 2015. The popularity of AYUSH has also influenced the growth of the medical tourism industry in India. The announcement of new centres is likely to further promote AYUSH and put it in the mainstream of health and wellness.