Isha[1], the organic health system project, was set up by Isha Foundation in collaboration with the Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s AYUSH Department to tap into the vast fount of ancient streams of medical knowledge. AYUSH – representing Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy – was launched in October 2010 and holistic health centres have been set up at various places.

Now the project is breaking new ground with a National Symposium on Integration of AYUSH in Public Health – Initiatives to complement Primary Healthcare that was held at the PSG Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, Coimbatore, on October 7th 2012. The symposium was funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research in association with the JSS College of Naturopathy & Yogic Sciences, PSG Institute of Medical Sciences & Research, and RVS Ayurveda College.

Dr. R. Damodaran, Deputy Director of Public Health Services, Coimbatore, Government of Tamilnadu inaugurated the event. Dr. S Ramalingam, principal PSG institute of Medical Sciences and research and Dr. P.T Chacko, principal R.V.S Ayurveda college, Sulur delivered special addresses complimented Isha’s efforts of promoting integrated model of health care delivery. Dr. Arun Kumar in his plenary session underscored the relevance integrating Indian systems of medicine with allopathic systems stating this approach as holistic, cost effective and with a potential to empower the community.

The focus of this day-long symposium was to provide a forum for new information and discussion about benefits of alternative systems of healthcare with special emphasis on their role in enhancing Primary Healthcare at the community level. The program enriched knowledge about the benefits of  alternative systems, fostered exchange of ideas to promote integration of allopathic and alternative healthcare systems, challenges in integration and explored the scope of increasing access, affordability and equity in healthcare through an integrated approach.

All the participants were served traditional drinks and snacks from Isha Ruchi like sukku coffee and ragi cookies, instead of conventional coffee and tea.

The event featured presentations from distinguished speakers of Ayurveda, Siddha, Naturopathy, Yoga, Homeopathy and Allopathy health systems, paper presentation by students from indigenous system of medicine, question and answer sessions. About 170 students, ayush and allopathic doctors from primary health care centres, representatives of professional bodies, participated in this day-long event.

While allopathy is recognized for its ability to quickly cure infectious diseases, the traditional systems of medicine are noted for their ability to strengthen the human body’s innate ability to resist disease. Combining the strengths of these two methods of healthcare, as AYUSH is striving to do, is sure to result in an effective and comprehensive approach to health in society.

[1] Visit the AYUSH-Isha website for more information