Indian doctors strike to save “modern medicine” from a risky fusion with alternative medicine

Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Doctors in India have become the latest group to protest against the Narendra Modi government’s policies.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), an apex body of doctors in India, has called for a nationwide strike today (Dec. 11) to express its opposition of the government’s decision to allow Ayurvedic practitioners to perform medical surgeries. “We stood up for India, lost 700 doctors to Covid. Your turn now to save modern medicine from mixopathy,” a newspaper ad by the IMA said.

What is “mixopathy”? It’s a term the protesting doctors have coined by combining the word “mix” and the suffix “pathy,” or disease. The meaning of mixopathy, as used by the doctors, is a critical way to refer to what they see as an effort to integrate different kinds of alternative medicine systems, like homeopathy and Ayurveda, with modern medical science. The Indian Medical Association is arguing that Ayurveda practitioners shouldn’t be allowed to carry out complicated surgeries that take years to learn.

Ayurveda is a traditional system of medicine that uses a combination of diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing to treat illnesses. In November, the Modi government had issued a notification which authorised post-graduate practitioners in specified streams of Ayurveda to be trained to perform surgical procedures. As per the notification, Ayurvedic doctors are now allowed to perform complicated surgery such as excisions of benign tumours, amputation of gangrene, and nasal among others.

The IMA, in its 12-hour strike today, will withdraw all non-essential and non-Covid services between 6am and 6pm. Emergency services, including casualty, labour rooms, intensive care units and emergency surgeries, will be exempt from the strike.

In November, the IMA had asked its members and the medical fraternity not to teach disciplines of modern medicine to students of other systems.