COVID-19 Prevention versus Cure: Kerala HC clarifies what AYUSH practitioners can prescribe, specifies conditions
Kerala: The Kerala High Court has clarified that AYUSH (Ayurveda, naturopathy, homeopathy, Unani, Siddha) practitioners are allowed to prescribe medication as immunity boosters amidst the COVID pandemic, however, they are forbidden from prescribing any medication as curative for COVID-19.
This came following a PIL filed in the court seeking a direction to the Secretary Department of Ayush government, Secretariat Trivandrum, and the State Government to ensure that homeopathy practitioners are immediately allowed to perform in accordance with the notification of Ayush ministry issued on 6th March 2020 to include homeopathy and other naturopathy treatment in the fight against COVID-19.
The petitioner submitted that the state government is not taking the necessary steps following the direction of the Ayush ministry's notification.
As per the submission, the petitioner claimed that "if Homoeopathic medicines are given to all, more particularly to the people in highly affected districts, to those who are under observation, isolation, and quarantine, this type of situation would not have happened."
Thereby, the petitioner sought the state government to immediately include these in the procedure.
However, the counsel representing the state government submitted that "Ministry of Ayush, the government had formed an expert committee for charting protocols for treatment for the management of COVID-19. In the said guidelines issued by the Government, Homeo medicines were not included."
The court was also informed that "the Government has approved the action plan of the Homeo department for giving Homeo medicines as prophylactic. However, the target population was not intended to include COID-19 patients or their contacts, or those people under quarantine."
The counsel for the state government further mentioned that the Government has approved the action plan of the Homeo department for giving Homeo medicines as prophylactic. However, the target population was not intended to include COID-19 patients or their contacts, or those people under quarantine.
After hearing the contentions, the Court observed;
"The target population was not intended to include COVID-19 patients or their contacts or those people, under quarantine. Advisory of the Ministry of AYUSH is being followed by the Government and tablets are given free of cost to those persons as immunity boosters. As per the State Medical Protocol, COVID-19 affected persons should not be treated by anybody other than the Government and those authorized by the Government. As per the medical protocol of the Government, doctors practicing in AYUSH medicines are not supposed to prescribe any medicines, stating that it is curative for COVID-19 disease."
However, the court allowed the Ayush practitioners to prescribe medicines as immunity boosters and noted;
"There is nothing prohibiting the qualified medical AYUSH practitioners to prescribe immunity booster mixture or tablets, as suggested by the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, New Delhi. When the Central, as well as State Governments, have approved prescription of certain mixtures and tablets, as immunity boosters, qualified medical practitioners in AYUSH can also prescribe the same, but only as immunity boosters."
Subsequently, the court while dismissing the plea held;
"If any qualified doctor practicing AYUSH medicine, makes any advertisement or prescribes any drugs or medicines, as a cure for COVID-19 disease, except those specifically mentioned in Annexure-I advisory to Exhibit-P1 D.O. letter dated 6.3.2020, it is open for the respondents to take appropriate action under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the orders of the Governments, both Central as well as the State, issued from time-to-time. Only those tablets or mixtures shall be given as immunity booster and not as a cure for COVID-19. AYUSH medical practitioners are further directed not to violate the Government Order dated 6.3.2020. In this regard, Medical/Police Departments are also directed to monitor the action of AYUSH medical practitioners."
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