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Maharashtra Govt Issues Notification Allowing Homeopaths To Continue Practicing Allopathy, Leaves IMA Fuming

Is the IMA's anger justified?

05/10/2017 11:34 AM IST | Updated 05/10/2017 11:36 AM IST
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Two bottles of homeopathic pills

A notification issued by the Maharashtra government on 27 September have left allopathy doctors fuming. Mumbai Mirror reports that the state's Medical Education and Drugs Department recently announced that qualified homeopaths can practice 'modern medicine', which means they would be entirely within legal parameters while prescribing allopathic medicines to patients.

Mirror reports: "According to the notification, doctors who obtained the Licentiate of the Court of Examiners of Homeopathy (LCEH) degree from 1951-1982, can register with the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC)." The report explains that anyone who is registered with the said organisation is legally permitted to practice 'modern scientific medicine'.

The tussle between allopathy doctors and practitioners of homeopathy over the right to prescribe allopathy medicine has been long. In 2012, according to this report, the Supreme Court had forbidden homeopathy doctors from prescribing allopathy medicines. But in the subsequent years, the court rejected the Indian Medical Association's (IMA) appeals to stop homeopathy doctors from continue practicing allopathy.

In January 2014, the Maharashtra government -- then a Congress government -- had announced that qualified homeopathic doctors can take an one-year course at the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences and practice some form of allopathic medicine. The Hindu reported that the government cited the lack of medical care and facilities in rural areas as a reason behind the move. The government felt that the 62,000 homeopathy doctors -- who have cleared their bachelors in homeopathy medicine -- could be valuable addition to the state's medical infrastructure. However, qualified allopathy practitioners opposed the move tooth and nail saying it was dangerous to let them practice allopathy as a one-year course was not enough to familiarise them with the complete nature of that school of medicine.

The IMA moved court, the case is still pending.

Meanwhile, as the case filed at the Bombay HC took its own time with hearings etc, the IMA also filed a special leave petition (SLP) at the Supreme Court of India, seeking an injunction on homeopaths from practicing allopathy. The Supreme Court, in 2015, rejected the petition on the ground that Ayurveda practitioners have been allowed to practice allopathy in Maharashtra since 1992. So, under such circumstances, it didn't make sense to stop homeopaths from doing the same, especially if such a move helps allay the medical crisis in the state.

It was reported in July this year that the IMA has moved to trademark a symbol which will help patients differentiate between practitioners of Ayurveda, homeopathy and so on and 'modern medicine' i.e. doctors with MBBS degrees. Once the sign is registered and approved, all MBBS doctors will proceed to use it.

The Maharashtra government's new notification seems to have added to the IMA's existent woes. The latter has said that it already has two pending cases on the issue and will now have to act against another move it does not agree with.

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