HENNAI: More than 1,100 students of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani courses of Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University are planning to boycott classes from Monday as they fear their courses will soon become invalid after portions pertaining to allopathic medicine were removed from their syllabus. The Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM), a regulatory body for the Indian medicine doctors has threatened to withdraw recognition to the state medical university, which removed allopathic content from their syllabus for traditional medicine. The council's one month deadline to withdraw its decision on syllabus revision ends September 17.
Students from Government Siddha College in Palayamkottai, who went on a token fast last week, have threatened to boycott class indefinitely. They argue that the council had allowed students of Indian medicine to also study parts of modern medicine to enable them to become better doctors. The university has deleted surgery, pharmacology and large sections of orthopeadics and ophthalmology. "If the university is not recognised, we will not be registered as doctors," said Sabari Manikantan, a student at the Government Siddha College, Palayamkottai. Students from seven siddha colleges, six ayurveda colleges, nine homeopathy colleges and a unani college will join the strike, he said.
The students have found support from their faculty and senior practitioners.
Council member (siddha) Dr B Muthukumar said the association of practitioners of Indian medicine will move the court against the university decision. He said the university did not consider the views of the standing academic board.
Six Indian medicine doctors, members of the board, advised the university not to delete allopathic contents from siddha, unani and ayurveda. But the university chose to go with the views of six allopathic doctors, he said. "The government has allowed us to prescribe allopathic medicines and do some surgeries because our students are trained. The university thinks that if they delete those parts from the syllabus we will be forced to stay away from prescribing certain allopathic drugsThe students are victimised," he said.
Senior Unani practitioner Hakim Syed Khaleefathulla argued that most allopaths considered themselves elite. "We are blamed even if we prescribe an over-the- counter drug. I know allopathic medical practitioners who prescribe Indian medicines. Why have they not been branded as quacks," he asked.
Associations of doctors in modern medicine including the state wing of the Indian Medical Association and the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council have a different take. "Anatomy and physiology that the Indian medicine students learn may be common to those of MBBS, but pharmacology is notWe are prepared to fight it out in a court," said state medical council president Dr M Prakasam. "An MBBS student studies modern medicine for five years unlike a student of Indian medicine who has only a few hours of exposure to the subjects. How can they be allowed to prescribe allopathic drugs."
Dr T N Ravishankar, a campaigner of IMA's anti-quackery wing finds another hole in the traditional practitioners' argument. "They claim purity is at the core of Indian systems of medicine. When they prescribe modern medicine, isn't this vital ingredient lost?"