The health care scenario in India continues to remain unsatisfactory in spite of two flourishing parallel distinct streams of health care, traditional and conventional. The public fund support to health sector is only one percent of GDP and the share of AYUSH sector in national health budget is only three percent. The public fund support to health sector in developed countries is 15-18 %. Thus health sector is not yet a priority in India. The results are obvious. In spite of noticeable advances in health care facilities ‘Health care for All’ is still a dream. We have not taken a real notice of the Alma Ata declaration of WHO of 1978 that Health for All is not possible without the help of traditional systems of medicine and local resources. Since then Govt. of India created a department of AYUSH in the union Ministry of Health and F.W. and now an independent AYUSH Ministry which has been promising for mainstreaming of AYUSH systems with little success. However at various forums it has been realized that the only strategy which could help to improve the situation in India is to promote medical pluralism and to utilize the expertise and human resource of AYUSH systems along with the strategic convergence of conventional medicine. The Planning Commission of India earlier pointed out that “Health sector trends suggest that medical pluralism will shape the future of health care where Ayurveda will play a key role. The shift from singularity to plurality is taking place because it is becoming evident that no single system of health care has the capacity to solve all of society’s health needs. India has a comparative advantage and can be a world leader in the area of medical pluralism because it has strong foundations in western biomedical sciences and an immensely rich and mature indigenous medical heritage of its own in Ayurveda.”
Ayurveda and certain other Ayush systems are the oldest systems of life science and health care, their antiquity going back to the Vedas. Ayurveda in particular seems to be the world view of its time which continued to be in unbroken professional practice down the ages but lately it shrank to India alone and is now gradually getting re-globalised with renewed resurgence of global interest. Nearly half the Indian population utilizes Ayurveda for their health needs even today. It has its huge infrastructure in this country as well as in certain other South East Asian countries with suitably regulated systems of education, research and clinical practice. However the system remains to be weak because of many reasons including the lack of social and economic support. Over the years Ayurveda in India follows an integrated pattern of education, practice and research incorporating conventional basic medical sciences and diagnostics but the whole sector is not yet very well organized. Hence the integration of the two systems has not yielded desired results. The main reason seems to be the fact that unlike China, our country follows unilateral integration, that too, in a half hearted manner. All the 265 UG and 65 PG Ayurvedic colleges are integrated but the counterpart modern medicine colleges are not integrated and continue to be pure Allopathic institutions leaving a huge gap between the two streams. In contrast, our neighbor country China allows bilateral integration and the gap is reduced substantially leading to a successful model of health care delivery system. In India too there is a need of rationally planned bilateral integration of the two systems at all levels viz education, research and clinical practice. The author of this communication is inclined to suggest a knowledge-base proportion of 75% vs 25% at all levels in UG education leaving PG education to remain vertical. Although this will have to be debated at national level. Such a national debate is already in progress for last few years but at a very low pace.