Following the widespread crack down by Tamil Nadu police on ISM doctors for practising allopathic system, the health department of state government has written to the state police that institutionally qualified and registered practitioners of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani could practice their respective systems with Modern Scientific Medicine including surgery, gynaecology & obstetrics, anaesthesiology, ENT, ophthalmology, etc based on their training and teaching in the course. The letter of the principal secretary, health, says, these doctors are barred from exclusively doing practice in allopathic medicine. This means that the traditional doctors can prescribe allopathic medicines only in emergency cases. According to sources, if any of these ISM doctors are exclusively practising allopathic medicine, action will be initiated against them under the Tamil Nadu Siddha System of Medicine (Development and Registration of Practitioners) Act 1997, and Tamil Nadu Board of Indian Medicine Rules. The decision of the government comes as a relief to the ISM doctors in the state when the Tamil Nadu branch of Indian Medical Association has raised their objection against the ISM physicians for practising modern system. According to sources, the Department has taken this decision based on some sections of Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. The letter of the principal secretary requests the Director General of Police not to intervene with the practice of Registered Practitioners of Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani and Naturopathy who are registered with the Tamil Nadu Siddha Medical Council and Tamil Nadu Board of Indian Medicine. It confirms that the rights of the practitioners of ISM are protected under section 17 (3) B of the Indian Medicine Central Council Act 1970, and accordingly the institutionally qualified practitioners of the system are eligible to practice. The decision of the health department is in principle allowing the ISM doctors to practice allopathic system on emergency cases. The health department’s intervention in the matter came in the wake of ISM practitioners’ representation to the government that the police in the course of their inspection against the quacks, are inspecting the clinics run by Registered Medical Practitioners in Siddha, Ayurveda and Unani and arresting them as if they are practising allopathic system. Last Monday, the association office-bearers met the deputy chief minister M K Stalin and the officials in the Health and Home Departments and submitted representations stating that the arrest of ISM practitioners would brand them as quacks. In the wake of unearthing of practices by certain unqualified quacks, who were prescribing both allopathic and ISM medicines in rural areas of Tamil Nadu, the IMA TN branch had earlier filed a case with the Madras High Court seeking an order to curb the illegal practice. Based on the complaint the Court has asked the state police to conduct an inquiry into the matter and the police started raiding clinics run by various traditional practitioners. Out of this a large number of institutes were run by qualified and registered practitioners. This has invited the wrath of the qualified Siddha doctors and forced them to approach the government. The ISM practitioners have informed the government that several state governments in India, including those of Punjab, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, are allowing the ISM doctors of their states to practice modern systems in cases of emergency.
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