New Delhi: The Maharashtra government’s recent decision to allow homeopathic doctors in the state to prescribe allopathic medicines if they completed a one-year bridge course in pharmacology has received a mixed response from the medical community.
The government cited shortage of allopathic doctors in rural areas for passing the decision. However, Dr Jayesh Lele, secretary of the Indian Medical Association’s Maharashtra chapter, believes through this move the government is actually granting homeopathic doctors backdoor entry into allopathy.
India Medical Times spoke to some of the eminent healthcare and medical professionals to know what they think of the government’s decision.
Dr Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, national professor of pharmacology, told India Medical Times, “I support the decision that a homeopathic doctor can prescribe allopathic medicines but the prescription should be limited to 20-30 drugs, that too along with appropriate training only.”
“Over the counter drugs can be prescribed by a homeopath by gaining knowledge of the drug but the number of drugs should be limited. However, there is a word of caution — any drug, which only a specialist should prescribe, should not be allowed to be prescribed by a homeopath. That will create a lot of problems. Limited drugs with training is what I advocate,” he said.
Rajendra Pratap Gupta, president, Disease Management Association of India (DMAI), told India Medical Times, “By giving this direction, the government has created a sentiment as if homeopaths were not at par with allopaths.”
“Homeopathy is a great approach to treat patients and till now most of the government reports have acknowledged that while allopathy only treats a patient, homeopathy gives a more permanent cure to the problems. We should consider them equal to all allopaths and let the homeopaths practice their stream with vigour and confidence,” he said.
“The present decision to allow them (homeopathic doctors) to prescribe allopathic medicines would only create a fight between the two streams. Like an aeroplane pilot cannot fly a jet fighter, an allopathic doctor cannot prescribe homeopathic medicines and vice versa,” Gupta said.
Dr Ashish Babhulkar, president, Shoulder and Elbow Society of India (SESI), told India Medical Times, “There are different perspectives to look at it. We do have a severe crunch of doctors especially in rural areas, given huge population but the decision is only a short-term solution to the problem as nothing can replace the experience and understanding of a pharmacologist and pharmacist about medicine.”
He further said, “Yes, there is a provision that the homeopathic doctors have to undergo some sort of training in order to be eligible to prescribe allopathic medicine, but can they be considered expert in the field? I am a doctor who is a orthopaedician but I would personally never recommend medicines for asthma or diabetes because I know there are specialists out there in the market who have done intensive study in that area and are anytime in a better position to prescribe medicines than I am. I can, or for that matter any other doctor, can prescribe medicine for other problems in which he is not an expert but there is something called responsibility towards the patients.”
“Like an allopathic doctor does not prescribe homeopathy medicines, a homeopath is expected to do the same. I would like to add that a good homeopath is certainly free to treat and prescribe allopathic medicines if he feels he has gained enough expertise and confidence in the area,” he said.
According to Dr Babhulkar, “Government should not take the issue lightly. Some concrete system has to be put in place to give a permanent solution to the problem (of shortage of allopathic doctors in rural areas). To reduce the gap of services in healthcare, government should increase the seats in government medical colleges. If we start today, then only after ten years we could see some significant improvement in the provision of services to people in rural India. Someone who has paid donation for admission in a private medical college naturally would not want to go to serve in rural areas.”
“To find a permanent solution to bridge the gap between healthcare services, giving permission to homeopaths to prescribe allopathic medicines is a very small effort in the direction,” he concluded.
by Vidhi Rathee