The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

The status and role of AYUSH and local health traditions in public health

Ritu Priya

India is a land of great ecological, cultural, political and economic diversity. Its healthcare system reflects this diversity, both in its plural systems of health knowledge and practice and in its range of healthcare that begins from a host of basic home remedies and culminates in the most recently developed technologies of modern tertiary care through a vast array of hospitals. Eight officially recognized medical systems make India unique. AYUSH is the current official acronym (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Homeopathy) for what was earlier called Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy (ISM&H), representing all except the eighth official system: ‘western medicine’, ‘modern medicine’ or biomedicine. Each of the AYUSH systems has its empirical base of codified knowledge, often textual, and has endured as a living tradition during a century-long dominance of western biomedicine.

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