Jaipur: The National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur plans to hire modern ophthalmologists who will not only perform surgeries with a team of Ayurvedic eye specialists, but also train the postgraduate students of the department of Shalakya Tantra (eye and ENT) in cataract, glaucoma and other eye surgeries. “We will hire qualified ophthalmologists (eye specialists and surgeons) on part-time basis,” said Dr Ajay Kumar Sharma, director, NIA Jaipur, adding, “We will begin with cataract surgery, the most common form, and later cover other eye surgeries, like glaucoma.” The institute has already implemented two similar synergies between modern surgery and Ayurveda at department of Shalya Tantra (surgery) and department of Prasuti Tantra (gynaecology). “At Shalya Tantra department, modern surgeons have joined their Ayurveda counterparts in performing most common surgeries, like appendicitis, hernia, gall-stone and at department of Prasuti Tantra they are aiding to perform caesarean deliveries and other tubectomy,” Dr Sharma said. [Source: Bhaskar, Sunday, July 8, 2012]
Comments: I am cautiously optimistic about the concept. It seems like a good idea in that there are hundreds of thousands of blind Indians, especially in the rural areas who can easily be given sight by cataract surgery. The WHO/NPCB (National Programme for Control of Blindness) survey has shown that there is a backlog of over 22 million blind eyes (12 million blind people) in India, and 80.1% of these are blind due to cataract. (source) There is a significant dearth of eye specialists in these region, and trained doctors of alternative medicine can certainly help in this situation. However, my main concern stems from a quality point of view. The training of these ayurvedic doctors and the situation in many of there colleges is far from satisfactory. The regulatory body for these colleges is also not very effective. These doctors may lack knowledge of anatomy, physiology and other basic sciences, especially in comparison to their MBBS doctor counterparts. Finally, employing part-time ophthalmologists to impart training to Ayurvedic students may not be an ideal way to bring about a substantial change in the demographic of cataract surgery. Finally, many of these super-specialist Ayurvedic doctors are likely to practice in cities, defeating the basic purpose of this exercise. We need rural doctors in a large way (like the Chinese barefoot doctors) and this would probably be done better with the Ministry of Health proposal of creating a separate degree for Rural Medicine.