Experts advocate Ayurveda at botanical convention

Kolkata, Dec 26 : Global experts from the world of mainstream and alternative medicine on Sunday said the rich repository of Indian knowledge of herbs and plants with medicinal values should be optimized for cost effective treatments and the country should shun its lethargy on patenting its Ayurvedic resources.

The Agri-Horticultural Society of India, in association with National Medicinal Plants Board AYUSH, Govt. of India, Botanical Survey of India and Nationalistic Doctors Forum, kickstarted its three-day international convention, “Botanicals in Integrated Health Care” here.

The convention was attended by representatives of various SAARC countries.

“We do not have a patent on neem, but Japan has it. There is an urgent need for patenting and integration of herbal therapy with the mainstream so that it is not denied to millions of Indians,” said Nationalist Doctors’ Forum general secretary Avijit Bhakta.

“India is a mini world for its biodiversity,” Bkakta said, urging the government to harness it.

Inaugurating the convention, Congress leader and legislator Dr Manas Ranjan Bhuniya said Ayurveda should have been in the history of India’s governance since Independence, but it did not happen.

He, however, thanked the Manmohan Singh government at the centre for taking it up in right earnest presently.

“Allopathy, Ayurveda and all other streams should be integrated,” he said, while taking potshots at the communist government in West Bengal for neglecting the stream tremendously.

Department of Indian Systems of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM and H) created in 1995 was re-named as Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in Nov 2003 with a view to stressing the streams.

Bhuniya said in an age where prices are constantly on the rise and the cost of basic healthcare remains unaffordable for many segments of society, it is necessary to explore alternative therapies of healing not just for their high degree of efficiency but also for their cost-effectiveness.

“Much of the population still relies on planned drugs, some of which come with harmful side-effects and even the risk of addiction. Ayurveda, on the other hand, carries none of this baggage, indeed our government, after 63 years of independence, is encouraging the learning and practice of Ayurveda through setting up colleges and courses and propagating this age-old knowledge,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. R Viswakarma, Director, Indian Institute of Integrated Medicine, Jammu, said India is raising its standards on the Ayurveda so that it is approved by US bodies like FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in USA.

Anupama Mitra, Organising Secretary, said “Our objective is to provide a platform for everyone – right from the doctors to the policy-makers, to come together and deliberate on the issue of medicinal plants and herbs.”

“What is needed is for alternate therapies like Ayurveda to be incorporated into conventional healthcare regimes. 0f course, this cannot be done without having authoritative information on hand, regarding optimum use and efficacy, not to mention the recommended doses,” she said.

Md. Mustafizur Rahman, Bangladesh Deputy High Commissioner, was also present on the occasion and lent his support to the development of herbal therapies.

Other dignitaries present were Satya Brata Ganguly (President, AHSI), Dr C M Ghosh (Director, Directorate of Ayurvedia, Director, State Medicinal Plants Board and Director ISM Drugs Control, Govt of West Bengal).

The Convention will have technical sessions on Panchakarma, Lifestyle Disease Management, Biodiversity and Conservation, Agrotechnology / Good Agricultural Practices, Genetics and Biotechnology, Phytopharmaceuticals / Ethical issues.

It is being attended by more than 300 delegates from the field of conservation and herbal drug industry, marketing, research and development, academics of botanicals, regulatory departments, Ayurvedic hospitals, Ayurvedia professionals, as well as Yoga and Naturopathy experts from India and other countries.

Prominent international delegates include Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya (USA), Dr. Patrick P. Basu ( eminent Gastroenterologist from USA), and Dr. Sudath Manjula Nagahawatta (Sri Lanka).

At the programme, Dr. Tapan Kumar Chatterjee was conferred the Nagarjuna Purashkar for contribution in Ayurvedic Drug Developmental Research. He is the Director of Clinical Research Centre, Jadavpur University.

Dr. Rathin Chakraborty was awarded with the Dhanwantwari Purashkar for contribution in the service of the suffering community, particularly in the non responsive areas of medical science.


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