Abstract distant dream. India has a rich lineage


Health has always been the primary concern for the human. However, availing health in India is a luxury rather than a necessity. Lack of medical health workers, the high cost of treatments and unavailability are some reasons which hinder the health care. Millions of people are being pushed below the BPL every year due to continuously rising treatment cost and out of pocket spending.  70 percent population of India lives in villages. The unwillingness of allopathic doctors to serve in villages, lack of infrastructure, government funding has side-lined the rural populations of India. The achievement of affordable basic healthcare available to all the people is preferred target in current scenario and “highest attainable standard of health” looks like a distant dream.  India has a rich lineage of using traditional medicine from the ancient times. The government support through AYUSH can be a game changer in achieving health for “Rural India”. Perceived effectiveness, safety, faith and availability of alternative medicine are few reasons which can play a vital role in achieving health target.  Alternative medicine holds the hope for fulfilling the prevalent gaps at affordable price hence enlarging the scope of Primary Health Care.

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Keywords: Healthcare, alternative medicine, AYUSH
















Indian health system at a glance

The growth of Indian population since 2001 till 2011 has grown 180 million census. The Indian population rate has grown to 1.2 billon (census 2011).out of overall percentage approx. 32 percentage of population residing in urban and remaining 68 percent is living in rural class.

Table 1. Population (in Crore)

















Source: www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-Common/CensusData2011.html

Todays, one of the biggest challenge is to provide an efficient and updated health care system to such a large population particularly residing in rural areas. Survey conducted by NHP (2011), total number of allopathic doctors which were registered is 921,877 whereas the ratio doctor: population (2010) is 69:100,000, which is in disagreement with WHO ratio of 1:1000. (Tripathy RM et al 2014). Since majority of allopathic doctors are not eager to work for rural areas which left these areas uncovered is one of the major conflicting fact. WHO in 2016, shows that 31.20 percent of doctors among all healthcare are providing healthcare to 27.82 % population in urban sector where as 72.18 percent  of population has only 29.70 percent allopathic doctors among percentage of all rural health workers (Marten, R. et al,  2014)

Table 2: status of doctors in urban and rural sector


(Among % of all urban health workers)

(Among % of all urban health workers)

Allopathic doctors



AYUSH (Ayurveda, Homeopathic and Unani )



Source: World Health Organization. (2016).

It is also to be noted that percentage of AYUSH doctors is higher in rural areas among the percentage of all rural health workers. Another major issue is expenditure on medicine. 72% of medicine is bought of out-of-pocket spending. Cost of drugs is one of the factors contributing to the problem of access to medicines (Garrett L et al 2009). There are several social adverse factors which crumble the health of vulnerable populations (APA Reddy et al 2011). In 2004, financial barriers led to roughly a quarter of the population unable to access health services; 35% of patients admitted to hospital were pushed into poverty (NSSO, 2005). There is also an increase in population below poverty line in 2010. 60 million Indians were pushed below poverty line due to payment of health lived on less than INR 20 a day. The word poverty is mentioned only as a consequence of ill health. (Lancet, 2012: A, B), (Sengupta, A, et al, 2007)


An efficient public health service is the key characteristics for the successful functioning of any health system. Some of the key representative core values of any efficient health care systems are:

Fig 1.CAM successful characteristics

In some countries traditional medicine are often terms as “complementary medicine” or “alternative medicine”. These terms refer to a broader set of health care practices that are basically not part of their own country’s tradition and are not integrated into the dominant health care system (WHO). Nowadays, CAM usage has become widespread in many western countries (Frass et al., 2012).

It is used primarily to complement conventional biomedical care, and in such cases it is termed “complementary medicine.” If used instead of conventional treatments it is termed “alternative medicine.” Some CAM modalities have become increasingly integrated into conventional healthcare organizations and are thus termed “integrative medicine” (Coulter et al., 2010) (Hollenberg, D. 2006) (Keshet et al., 2012).

The diversity of terms and healing practices included under the term CAM indicates that the ‘need’ or interest in the umbrella term CAM derives from legislators who pursue the regulation of CAM therapies, and researchers who examine CAM as a social phenomenon (Baer, 2004).

Boon et al. (2004) has proposed an appropriate term for referring “complementary and alternative health care (CAHC). In their viewpoint, “health care” is about covering whole scenario about medicine, reproducing the emerging recognition for wider determinants and interrelationships of well-being.


Alternative medical systems termed as a group of various medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not usually measured as a part of conventional medicine. (NCCAM/ NCCIH). AYUSH is the abbreviation of the different health care systems practicing practiced in India namely, Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy (www.nhp.gov.in)





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11.  https://www.nlm.nih.gov/tsd/acquisitions/cdm/subjects24.html

12.  https://www.nhp.gov.in/

13.  http://www.who.int/traditional-complementary-integrative-medicine/about/en/

14.  Frass, M., Strassl, R. P., Friehs, H., Müllner, M., Kundi, M., & Kaye, A. D. (2012). Use and acceptance of complementary and alternative medicine among the general population and medical personnel: a systematic review. The Ochsner Journal, 12(1), 45-56.

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16.  Keshet, Y., Arnon, Z., Ben-Arye, E., Attias, S., Sroka, G., Matter, I., & Schiff, E. (2012). The perceived impact of integrative medicine in a surgical department. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 4(1), e27-e35.

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18.  Baer, H. A. (2004). Toward an integrative medicine: merging alternative therapies with biomedicine. Rowman Altamira.

19.  Boon, H., Verhoef, M., O’Hara, D., Findlay, B., & Majid, N. (2004). Integrative healthcare: arriving at a working definition. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 10(5), 48.


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