Observations Reality Check

Assaulting alternative medicine: worthwhile or witch hunt?

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1075 (Published 15 February 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1075

Re: Assaulting alternative medicine: worthwhile or witch hunt?

We might have more practitioners of alternative medicine throughout the world than practitioners of the modern system of medicine. For this reason, the Indian government has opened a separate department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare because number matters in the country more than rationality or science.

As there is mixture of scientific and non-scientific system of medicine at the government level, the other alternative systems also got strong foothold in the land such as naturopathy, acupuncture, numerology, palmistry, tantric and magic therapy. From my personal point of view, we should be receptive to examining the validity of all systems for the benefit of human kind. But when investment of public money or funding is concerned there should be thorough understanding that the product benefits people not on the basis of assumption but scientific evidence. Many times the modern system of medicine has also failed to prove benefit substantially, and the should also not be included in government funded projects or programs. Unfortunately public funding is not based on scientific evidence but politics, social and economic pressures.

Another fear today is scientific fraud. You can manipulate the research study and get it published in your own journal or website. Sometimes it is difficult to assess the genuineness of reports or publications which can be quoted in parliament or decision fora. To avoid such frauds, separate institutions focusing on the human and ethical issues in all disciplines need to be developed.

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 February 2012
Jugal Kishore
Professor in Public Health
Maulana Azad Medical College
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg New Delhi 110002, India