ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Health : Reviving an Old Idea

Reviving an Old Idea To the uninitiated it must come as a surprise that the government is only now, after half a century of independence, working on a plan to involve the vast numbers of traditional medicine practitioners and their well-entrenched infrastructure in the public health system. While it may be too harsh a comment that the colonial grid in which the entire growth of the health infrastructure has taken place so far is finally giving way, it is a fact that at various points attempts to integrate indigenous systems into the state health infrastructure have been derailed. Often there has been a deliberate attempt to relegate such efforts to the sidelines; more frequently, the attempts have failed because they have not been based on realities, nor had proper ground been prepared for such change. One of the earliest such

To the uninitiated it must come as a surprise that the govern    ment is only now, after half a century of independence, working on a plan to involve the vast numbers of traditional medicine practitioners and their well-entrenched infrastructure in the public health system. While it may be too harsh a comment that the colonial grid in which the entire growth of the health infrastructure has taken place so far is finally giving way, it is a fact that at various points attempts to integrate indigenous systems into the state health infrastructure have been derailed. Often there has been a deliberate attempt to relegate such efforts to the sidelines; more frequently, the attempts have failed because they have not been based on realities, nor had proper ground been prepared for such change.

One of the earliest such ‘models’ is to be found in a document forgotten by everyone except health researchers, known as the Chopra Committee report, published around the same time as the Bhore Committee report which drew the grid-lines for the current health infrastructure. The Chopra report had drawn an elaborate plan for integrating the several systems of medicine with the allopathic system, even going to the extent of suggesting the manner in which an integrated system of medical education could be evolved. Had the system been put in place the traditional systems today may not have remained in isolation, and the integrated system may well have been in the forefront of medical developments. The problem however was with the influence that the aficionados of ‘modern’ science and medicine wielded and the contemporary context of modernisation which brooked no alternatives to progressive science. The present government, if it is interested in bringing traditional systems into the ‘mainstream’ of public health services, ought to give some time to unearthing the Chopra Committee report from the depths of the National Medical Library or such repository of archival material.

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