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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Govt introduces Bill in Parliament to boost transparency & accountability in homoeopathy

The going is expected to get tougher for many homoeopathy colleges in the country that are dogged by infrastructure woes, faculty shortage and corruption allegations in the wake of a new Bill to boost transparency and accountability in homoeopathy education system, say practitioners and experts in this alternative medical field. 

The government introduced the Homoeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill of 2018 in Parliament on July 23 which would replace the existing Central Council of Homoeopathy (CCH) with a board of governors. The bill will replace an ordinance brought by the government in May this year and stipulates stricter ground rules for new and existing homoeopathic medical colleges.

The bill is widely welcomed as an effort to increase accountability. But many private educational institutions are already troubled by infrastructure issues and faculty shortage. They may find the new regulatory guidelines too rigorous, the dean of a private homoeopathic medical college who didn't wish to be named said. 

As per the draft bill, the members of the board of governors will replace the existing functionaries of the CCH and will comprise seven well-known homoeopathy practitioners and administrators. They will be appointed by the government. The Central government will select the chairperson of the board, and with regard to policy decisions, the directions of the government will be final.

Several leading homeopaths and researchers welcomed the provisions of the new bill. Its a step in the right direction and should be welcomed by all stakeholders for the common good. The board (of governors) will consist of up to seven members, including persons of eminence in the field of homoeopathy education, and top administrators. It will have a multi-faceted character, Dr RK Manchanda, Director General of Central Council of Research in Homeopathy (CCRH), told Pharmabiz. CCRH is an apex research organisation under Ministry of Ayush that promotes scientific research in homoeopathy.

The bill proposes stricter rules for granting permission for new or existing homoeopathy colleges, a point that worries many private college promoters. The draft states that if any person has established a homoeopathy medical college, or if an established homoeopathy medical college has opened new courses or increased its admission capacity, it will have to seek permission from the central government within one year. If the person or homoeopathy medical college fails to seek such permission, then any medical qualification granted to a student from such medical college will not be recognised under the Act.

It may be noted that medical panels in several countries have recently asserted that homoeopathy is no more effective than placebo. There is already apprehension among students to opt for this field of medicine. And when it is difficult to start new colleges and existing institutions face increased scrutiny, it will be detrimental to the growth of this field, a Tamil Nadu-based homoeopathic medical college administrator pointed out.

In India, homoeopathy is the second-highest funded as well as used category under Ayush by the Indian government and public respectively. Government data showed that during 2016-17, the budgeted expenditure for Ayurveda was Rs. 170 crore and homoeopathy was a close second at Rs. 120 crore. The country currently has more than 225,000 homoeopathy doctors, around 8,000 government dispensaries and 200 hospitals providing homoeopathy treatment.

There is a felt need to monitor the functioning of homoeopathic medical colleges and the new bill will go a long way towards achieving that goal. A panel of homoeopathy specialists to set standards and approve the establishment of new colleges will certainly raise the accountability bar, Dr SI Husain, Secretary General of Homoeopathic Medical Association of India opined

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Item Reviewed: Govt introduces Bill in Parliament to boost transparency & accountability in homoeopathy Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ameer CT