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Current status of MS traditional medicine course

Dr. Amritpal Singh
Thursday, May 4, 2017, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its first ever comprehensive MS Traditional Medicine strategy in 2002. The strategy is designed to assist countries to develop national policies on the evaluation and regulation of traditional medicine/complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices; Create a stronger evidence base on the safety, efficacy and quality of the traditional medicine/complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) products and practices; Ensure availability and affordability of traditional medicine/complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including essential herbal medicines; Promote therapeutically sound use of traditional medicine/ complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by providers and consumers; Document traditional medicines and remedies.

MS Traditional Medicine course was initiated by the Department of Natural Products, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali, in the year 2007. Right now, this course is being offered at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali only. The chief mandate of the course is to cater the need of the ayurvedic/herbal drug industry in India. The credit of initiating much wanted course goes to Prof. K. K. Bhutani, an academician with great interest in natural products and traditional medicine for discovering cost-effective and life saving drugs.

Traditional Medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.

The admission in MS Traditional Medicine course is done on the basis of an entrance examination. Students with B. Pharm or Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B. A. M. S) or Master degree in Botany (M. Sc Botany) are eligible to appear in the entrance examination.

The syllabus is well structured to meet with requirements of the ayurvedic/traditional medicine at national as well as international levels. The syllabus creates a strong link between ayurvedic and modern medicine.

Difference between conventional courses and MS Traditional Medicine course
MS Traditional Medicine course is a unique course for students serous in making a carrier in this line.  The conventional courses being run in Ayurvedic Pharmacy are Diploma in Ayurvedic Pharmacy (abbreviated as D. Pharm-Ayurveda), Bachelor of Ayurvedic Pharmacy (abbreviated as B. Pharm-Ayurveda) and Masters of Ayurvedic Pharmacy (abbreviated as M. Pharm-Ayurveda). The major difference between conventional courses (D. Pharm-Ayurveda, B. Pharm-Ayurveda and M. Pharm-Ayurveda and M. S. (Traditional Medicine) is a striking difference in the syllabus.

Status of Traditional Medicine course

M S (Traditional Medicine) Course being run by National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali has remained in hibernation due to popularity of conventional pharmacy courses like and lack of awareness among majority of the ayurvedic graduates holding Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S) degree. It is worthwhile to note that M S (Regulatory Toxicology) course was started along with M S (Traditional Medicine) course and it is popular among students interested in persuing carrers in regulatory affairs. The pass outs of M S (Traditional Medicine) course are eligible for appearing in an entrance examination for admission in Ph. D in natural products.

Traditional medicine is making a dramatic comeback and scientific validation is an absolute necessity. The majority of people affected rely on traditional medicine mainly because it is relatively affordable and available to the populations who cannot afford orthodox medicine. Traditional medicine is widely practiced in several parts of the world and notable systems include traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), ayurveda or traditional Indian medicine (TIM) and traditional African medicine (TAM).

With drug resistance posing challenge to the scientific community, traditional medicine is the right option for exploring novel chemical entities (NCE). Although there have been calls for traditional medicine to be incorporated into the healthcare system, less emphasis has been placed on ethical and regulatory issues. With increasing demand for traditional medicine, statuary bodies have been established for governing quality control, assurance and sales of traditional medicine.

Institutes of national importance like National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, which have been created through the Act of  Parliament can play a significant role in establishing scientific credibility and enhancing accountability of traditional medicine.

Remedial steps for enhancing popularity of MS course

  • Experienced faculty having vast exposure to Ayurveda needs to be inducted immediately. Candidates with sound track record in Dravyaguna and Rasa Shastra should be part and parcel of the faculty. With the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) and Department of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (Ayush) taking remedial steps for making The Ayurvedic System of Medicine popular at international levels, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research authorities must take mandatory steps for making M.S. (Traditional Medicine) course popular among Ayurvedic and pharmacy graduates.
  • The nomenclature related to Traditional Medicine Course needs to be revised. Adding a more decisive title like Ethnopharmacology along with traditional medicine may serve the purpose.
  • M.S. (Traditional Medicine) Course was initiated in 2007. There is an urgent need for initiating a doctorate program in traditional medicine keeping in mind the lack of quality manpower in the Ayurvedic drug industry. With Government of India launching National Ayush Mission and aiming to bring Ayurveda or Traditional Indian Medicine on lines parallel to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, the relevance of masters and doctorate courses related to Traditional Traditional Indian Medicine is more valid.
Prospects for students with MS Traditional Medicine course
  • Students can join as technical person/advisor in Ayurvedic/herbal manufacturing units.
  • Students can join as faculty in colleges/universities imparting studies related to Ayurvedic pharmacy.
  • Students can set up own pharmacy.
  • With Government of India plans to set up a separate Drug Controller for Ayush, students with M.S. (Traditional Medicine) Course degree can apply for government jobs.
  • With Government of India planning to set up a separate apex body for the nutraceuticals, students with M. S. (Traditional Medicine) course degree can find avenues with the nutraceutical industry.
  • Rarely, the students with M. S. (Traditional Medicine) course degree can find a consultant position with reputed organisations like Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Pharmacopoeial Laboratory of Indian Medicine (PLIM) and National Medicinal Plant Board (NMPB).
Note: The ideas expressed in this article are neither to promote or rebuke any course or institution. The author joined as an external faculty in National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Mohali in 2007 for teaching the course.  

(Author is a herbal consultant based in Mohali)


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Dr USN Murty, Director NIPER Mohali (Officiating), May 5, 2017 11:49 AM
This is a thought provoking article that has thrown light on the hidden importance of the Traditional Medicine course. I strongly feel that this course is not only helpful in bringing out the masked info on Traditional Medicine but also explore the doctoral programs in NIPER system. I strongly suggest that MS (Traditional Medicine) course must be inducted in all NIPERs especially in NIPER Guwahati where it is more relevant due to the richest biodiversity of North East region. I hope DoP will support our future programs. Dr USN Murty, Director (Officiating) NIPER Mohali/Director NIPER Guwahati

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