September 10, 2018
India is home to Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha and other traditional disciplines of healthcare and wellness that have witnessed a steady rise in interest around the world
India is the world’s second largest exporter of herbal medicines; Amid a rise of lifestyle diseases, the world is looking towards traditional medicine for solution
Government of India has sought to impose strict regulatory and quality standards in the AYUSH sector to alleviate concerns related to alternative medicines
India’s wellness market, valued at over US$10 billion, is expected to grow to US$21 billion by 2020; Export from the sector was worth US$1.1 billion in 2016-17
AYUSH has witnessed strong traction amid efforts to boost traditional medicines’ global reach. As a result, India’s wellness market, valued at over US$10 billion, is expected to grow to US$21 billion by 2020. Export from the sector was worth US$1.1 billion in 2016-17. To drive export growth, AYUSH Premium Mark, a quality certification scheme, is ensuring the efficacy of Indian herbal products.
Ayurveda, which translates as Knowledge of Life and Longevity, is perhaps the oldest healthcare system known to mankind. The holistic Ayurvedic system tackles illness by establishing harmony between the physical, mental and spiritual states through lifestyle interventions, spiritual nurturing, and treatment with herbo-mineral formulas based on a patient’s mental and physical constitution.
Herein, Ayurveda’s successes in managing lifestyle diseases and chronic illnesses is wooing foreign investment into dedicated centres. As a result, holistic healthcare under Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy is spreading rapidly around the world. These systems focus on creating and preserving human body’s perfect metabolic balance and thereby, maintaining optimum health the natural way.
The country is the second largest exporter of Ayurvedic and alternative medicines in the world. India has recorded 8,000 medicinal plants in the Himalayas, around its coastline, deserts and rainforest ecosystem that form the backbone of alternative medicine. The Government has sought to impose stricter quality standards in the AYUSH sector to alleviate concerns related to alternative medicines.
India’s wellness landscape has evolved from being quite unstructured in early years, to its present well-regulated form. Government of India’s wellness program, AYUSH, promotes alternative healthcare systems including Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, Naturopathy and SOWA – RIGPA. While the Government is offering 100 per cent FDI under the banner of AYUSH, the Make in India initiative is pushing wellness as a unique offering from India.
Investment opportunities are many, in areas such as sourcing, import and export of medicinal herbs and raw material, drug research, testing, quality control, manufacturing, marketing as well as training of healthcare professionals and establishment of treatment facilities. In addition, the government is also welcoming knowledge transfer from other nations who have a history in alternative medicine, and collaboration opportunities at regional and global levels.
India has also conducted international exchange programmes, seminars and workshops on AYUSH. Preliminary agreements for ‘country to country cooperation in the field of traditional medicine’ have been signed with China, Malaysia, Hungary, Trinidad and Tobago and others with Serbia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Mexico are in the pipeline. Established companies are pursuing revenue maximization through product and service diversification and are exploring new global and domestic markets. The franchising model is seen as a popular option for scaling up.
India’s AYUSH infrastructure comprises nearly 687,000 practitioners, over 26,100 dispensaries and 3,100 government hospitals, 500 undergraduate colleges with annual intake of over 28,000 students, 151 centers for post-graduate education with annual admission of 3,504 scholars and 8,896 licensed drug manufacturing units. Currently, the industry comprises a range of segments — alternative medicine, nutrition, preventive and personalized health, workplace wellness, yoga and fitness.
Parallelly, development of standards for Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) medicines has been an ongoing process of the Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicine and Homoeopathy and Pharmacopoeia Committees. So far, 985 Ayurvedic formulations, 1,229 Unani formulations and 399 Siddha formulations have been standardised and published in their respective formularies. These have boosted India’s traditional healthcare industry, raising the nation’s medical tourist arrivals.
India has a dedicated Central Council of Indian Medicine, Central Council of Homoeopathy (Regulatory Councils) and five Central Councils for Research, one for each AYUSH system. There are also seven National Institutes (two for Ayurveda and one each for other systems), two north-eastern institutes to cater to needs of a specific area, two Pharmacopoeia Laboratories, one Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine, a National Medicinal Plants Board and a public sector undertaking for manufacture of standardized Ayurvedic and Unani medicine.
World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet dated June 2018 reported that 71 per cent of all deaths globally were caused by Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), most of which resulted from unhealthy lifestyles. A combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioural factors contributes to the alarming rise in NCDs, primarily in low and middle-income countries all over the map, Healthcare professionals are examining ways and means to tackle these diseases and traditional medicines have emerged as a reliable solution.
As the world gravitates towards holistic wellness, all eyes turn towards India. Herein, the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed a historic Project Collaboration Agreement (PCA) for cooperation on promoting the quality, safety and effectiveness of service provision in traditional and complementary medicine.