“In the present medical system, non-allopathic therapies are given a step motherly treatment. Allopathic doctors call non-allopaths quacks without knowing anything about their system of medical care......Prejudice, ignorance and self interest have prevailed over open minded scientificity in this important area of medical care. mfc believes that these therapies be encouraged to take their proper place in the modern system of medical care and research on these therapies be encouraged by allotting more funds and other resources.”
- mfc pamphlet 1989
A Dialogue towards plural practice began in 1988 when practitioners of different systems like Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Yoga, Tibetan Medicine and Biomedicine (allopathy) were brought together as a forum for regular meetings to understand and share the concept of different systems of medicine. This forum was initiated by Shirdi Prasad, a plural child health practitioner who was one of the pioneers of CHC. The discussions included dimensions of medical pluralism, integration of traditional health care systems and initiation of pluralistic practice and challenges associated with it.
SOCHARA’s commitment to exploring Medical Pluralism and Integrated Health System began in 1989 when a dialogue on Medical Pluralism – A Case for Critical Attention (mfc 148)was initiated through two short papers in the mfc bulletin 155 – 156 by Ravi and Dhruv Mankad one of our close associates. The bulletin also carried an overview of Non-allopathic systems of medicine – A journey through 148 mfc bulletins and a guest editorial by the same authors. (mfc 148 page 11)
In 1991 when SOCHARA was registered as an independent society we included integration of medical and health systems as one of the themes for action research “To undertake research in community health policy issues, including strategies in community health care, health personal training and integration of medical and health systems.”
Educational Initiatives – to garner interest towards other systems of health promote interdisciplinary research. SOCHARA was part of team which planned and designed the idea of M.SC in Alternative Systems of Medicine and Health Care as a Calendar released at the 1st Peoples Health Assembly (PHA) in Savar, Bangladesh in 2000. The collaborators were Gonoshashthaya Kendra, Bangladesh, Oxfam India, Bangalore, Swayam Shikshan Prayog and New Entities for Social Action (NESA), Bangalore. The Calendar included little postcards highlighting herbal medicines.
As a followup to the Calendar, the Gono Bishwabidyalaya (GB) Bangladesh which was the peoples university linked to the GK Bangladesh, organised two academic courses with 50% practical, 40% theory and 10% seminar related to traditional systems of medicine. SOCHARA participated through Ravi in evolving the curriculum framework for both these courses.
a. Masters of Science in Traditional Systems of Medicine
b. Diploma in Traditional Systems of Medicine
SOCHARA participated in the facilitation of the Orissa Vision 2010 – a Health Strategy in 2002. It helped introduce a chapter on Integrating Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy in this state policy.
SOCHARA participated in the facilitation of the Karnataka State Integrated Health Policy as part of the Karnataka Government Task Force on Health and Family Welfare. Section 5.18 specifically mentions Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) – “will receive increase support to promote their optimal growth. They will be involved more in health decision making and provision of health services, so that people can freely exercise a choice.”
SOCHARA helped with the facilitation of the South Asian Regional conference on Traditional Medicine and Health for All, in Bangalore from 13 to 15 December 2006 which was organised by AIFO, Italy. The conference brought together practitioners and policy makers from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan and led to a consensus statement on Traditional Medicine and Right to Health for All.
SOCHARA reviewed all the ideas and mandates from the Bhore Committee Report of 1946 till the National AYUSH policy of 2006.
SOCHARA organised a stakeholders Workshop on “AYUSH Interventions in Public Health” in collaboration with Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions, (FRLHT), Bangalore on 8th & 9th February 2008 at FRLHT, Bangalore. This workshop was organised on behalf of the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India, New Delhi and focused on Initiatives for Promotion of AYUSH intervention in public health systems of the country.
The Planning Commission set up an AYUSH steering group for the 12th plan 2012 to 2017 and SOCHARA was invited to be a member through the participation of Dr. Ravi Narayan. The Steering Group set up a special Public Health Working Group to evolve a National AYUSH Mission – Advancing Health for All in the 12th Plan. This small working group was chaired by Ravi and evolved a national mission with six components.
This AYUSH mission was to help convert to a truly National Integrated Health Mission in the thirteenth plan (2018-2013).
In a special national meeting on Universal Health Coverage, Ritu Priya of JNU a long term
associate of SOCHARA wrote a very exhaustive conceptual paper on AYUSH integration as part of the evolving Universal Health Care Challenge. Conceptualising UAHC 'Bottom Up': Implications for Provisioning and Financing. (Page 9).
SOCHARA organised the 1st Public Health Policy Workshop on AYUSH and Public Health mainstreaming which is an important component of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) objectives. This workshop was conducted at our Maruthi Nagar office in January 2012 in collaboration with the Governance Hub of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) New Delhi. The objectives, programme of the workshop and the list of background papers can be accessed here.