Ayush Clinic inaugurated at NIMS Hospital in Telangana. Here’s why doctors are opposing it

Citing patient safety as a primary concern, resident doctors at NIMS will write to the Chief Secretary to remove the clinic from the institute premises.

ByChetana Belagere

Published Aug 31, 2023 | 7:50 PMUpdatedAug 31, 2023 | 7:50 PM

Telangana Health Minister T Harish Rao inaugurated the Ayush centre at NIMS Hyderabad.(Supplied)

The inauguration of an Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) clinic within the premises of the prestigious Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) Hospital in Hyderabad has ignited a heated debate within the medical community.

The controversial move, spearheaded by Health and Finance Minister T Harish Rao, has drawn sharp criticism from the medical fraternity, especially from NIMS’s Resident Doctors Association (RDA), who question the compatibility of alternative medicine practices with the institution’s longstanding commitment to scientific rigor and patient safety.

Ayush clinic inaugurated

NIMS Hospital, renowned for its contributions to modern medicine, found itself at the centre of a storm as the inauguration ceremony took place on Thursday, 31 August.

Minister Harish Rao’s comments during the event, touting the benefits of the newly-established Ayush Integrated Wellness Centre, were met with resistance from doctors and healthcare experts.

Speaking to South First, Dr Zeeshan, Senior Resident, Radiology Department at NIMS and President of the RDA, said, “With no specific guidelines and scientific evidence for treatments and medicines of Ayush, how can we set up a wellness centre here?

“There might be benefits but our concern is patient safety as there is no standard scrutiny/trial done for the medicines they give. We will even be submitting a letter to the chief secretary about this.”

Related: Modern medicine vs Ayush: Kerala health sector a divided house

Don’t bring down stature of NIMS: Doctors

NIMS’s RDA expressed deep disappointment and concern over the integration of Ayush practices within the medical institution.

In a strongly-worded press release, the RDA emphasised their unwavering belief in evidence-based medical practices that prioritise “patient well-being, scientific validity, and the highest standards of care”.

The release stated: “The RDA of NIMS expresses deep concern and disappointment over today’s inauguration of an Ayush clinic within the premises of the esteemed medical institution by the Health Minister and administration.”

It added: “The RDA firmly believes in evidence-based medical practices that prioritise patient safety, scientific rigor, and the highest standards of care. Our primary concern lies in the potential risk to patient well-being,”

The core contention lies in the perceived lack of extensive clinical validation and research that supports alternative medicine practices, like Ayurveda and Homeopathy, when compared to modern medicine.

Speaking to South First, a senior resident from NIMS said, “This institute is a model institute for not just Telangana but all over India. People choose to come here for the super specialities that the institute offers. Why do we need an Ayush clinic at a place like this? Can’t they do it in their own Ayush hospitals/institutes?”

Critics argue that integrating these practices within the hospital’s framework could potentially compromise patient care, mislead patients, and dilute the institution’s longstanding commitment to rigorous scientific standards.

The RDA called into question the decision-making process that led to this integration, expressing disappointment in senior doctors of the institute who allowed such a move to materialise.

They urged the administration of NIMS to prioritise evidence-based practices and uphold the sanctity of scientific medicine, asserting that there is no place for alternative medicine practices in modern medicine hospitals.

Also Read: WHO’s Traditional Medicine Global Summit sparks controversy

Divide among modern doctors?

The controversy has sparked a broader debate about the role of alternative medicine within mainstream healthcare institutions. While proponents of Ayush practices emphasise their holistic and natural approach to healing, critics point to the lack of substantial clinical evidence and peer-reviewed research to validate the effectiveness of these practices.

Speaking to South First, convenor of Telangana’s State IMA Scientific Committee Dr Kiran Madhala, supporting the move, said: “The ‘One Health’ concept is being picked up by World Health Organisation itself. Every 8th clinical trial registered in India belongs to Ayush. We need an integrated approach to deal with diseases. I believe that it is a welcome step by NIMS.”

Agreeing that there are some doctors who are for Ayush, Dr Zeeshan, however, said that a majority of them are against this.

“Our only concern is that, without scientific evidence, how do we accept the treatments or the medicines prescribed by them? There are no proper guidelines on how they will function. The health minister said that if modern medicine fails they will treat, what does that mean? There is no explanation offered to this statement!”

Also Read: Alternative medicine reason for 42% of chronic liver disease deaths

More Ayush centres to be launched 

Congratulating the institute and Ayush department, Health Minister Harish Rao said that this is the first time in the state that such a integrated wellness centre is being established, where all medical systems of Ayurveda, Unani, Homeopathy, Siddha, and Naturopathy are available on one platform.

“State-of-the-art facilities have been set up to conduct Ayurvedic and Naturopathic procedures and treatments under the guidance of expert Ayush doctors. Retired civil servants, retired government servants, and currently serving individuals in various capacities are receiving medical treatment through the NIMS Wellness Centre,” he said.

Condemning this, Dr Zeeshan said, “NIMS conducts more than 300 dialysis per day and that unit needs expansion badly, the Health Ministry could have thought about this expansion.”

Meanwhile, the ICU needs expansion that could have been looked into, another senior resident told South First on condition of anonymity.

While there are 834 Ayush dispensaries, five colleges, four research hospitals, and new 50-bed Ayush hospitals are under construction at Vikarabad, Bhupalpally, and Siddipet, Harish Rao said that there will be more such integrations done with hospitals in the near future across the state.