Most doctors who practise western medicine consider alternative streams of medicine either inferior or fake. But, Padma Bhushan Dr B.M. Hegde, renowned cardiologist, medical scientist and former vice-chancellor of Manipal University, has great admiration for Indian systems of medicine, especially ayurveda.
He has been advocating the idea of integrating the different systems of medicine by taking the best out of everything, to improve health care in the country. For every ill has a pill in the western system, every pill has an ill following, he says. This integrated system—meta-medicine—is a holistic approach of healing, where western medicine is used exclusively for emergency care. It employs scientific methods available in alternative systems of medicine to heal chronic and lifestyle diseases.
Hegde thinks the supremacy of western medicine and corruption in the medical sector should end. But, he is sceptical about certain clauses in the National Medical Commission Bill. Excerpts from an interview:
The NMC bill proposes to introduce a bridge course of six months for alternative medicine practitioners, in order to solve the poor doctor-patient ratio in the country. They can prescribe certain modern medicines, if they pass the bridge exam. What is your take on it?
That is dangerous. Without much training in the modern medicine system, they should not be allowed to do that.... Course must be for at least three years, if they really want to have it.
For solving the inadequacy of doctors, this is not the way. I have suggested the government to appoint a MBBS doctor, an ayurveda doctor, a homeopathy doctor, a siddha doctor and a yoga practitioner in every primary health centre.... Patient comes to a practising nurse, who will find out which system (of medicine) will be suitable for that patient. Patient will be directed to see that particular doctor. This system will bring down the cost of health care.
The bill proposes that the Medical Council of India be replaced with the National Medical Commission, which will have 25 members. Will this solve corruption?
When you have a body of men who are corrupt, whether it is MCI or NMC, it will all be the same.... Who will be nominated? Those who have influence, who may not have any idea what medicine is, what treatment is or what disease is. So, this will be worse than MCI.
Indian Medical Association is opposing the NMC bill.
IMA was looting MCI. MCI’s president was IMA’s president, too. They don’t want to give up their rights.
The bill proposes a NEXT (National Exit Test) exam, a licentiate exam that all medical graduates will have to clear, to practise.
It is there in many countries. With the introduction of NEET (National Eligibility and Entrance Test) exam and NEXT exam, we will have one standard for entry and one standard for exit, which is a good idea.
What is your opinion on doctors going on strike?
Doctors cannot go on strike. Strikes should be banned, because it is an essential service.