As a homeopath, I oppose the bridge course which is being contemplated for practitioners of homeopathy and other AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddhi and Homeopathy) streams. The bridge course will allow AYUSH practitioners in India to practise basic conventional medicine. Here are my thoughts on this and I write it from the point of view of homeopathy being my field of medicine:

1. We have a very effective and strong system of medicine ourselves, so why do we need to prescribe conventional medicine? In an emergency, if life-saving conventional treatment is needed (if the homeopath is not skilled or confident enough of treating it), patients can go to trained doctors in that field. The bridge course is not going to provide high-level ER training in any case.

2. It is said that the reason the government is planning this move is because there are insufficient doctors in rural areas and people living in such places have no access to healthcare. Fine. Why does rural India need conventional treatment only? Why can’t the other systems of medicine be practised there? In fact, this is a good chance to show, in comparative terms, how the other systems of medicine contribute positively to healthcare.

3. This bridge course is not going to help the cause of AYUSH. As students and young practitioners, many want to practise conventional medicine because of status and the perception of higher incomes. It is also a fact that to be a good homeopathic physician, one needs a great level of skill which only comes with hard work and constant learning. It is not as easy as prescribing ‘this for that’. Hence, this bridge course will serve as a back-door entry to conventional medicine practice and will be an escape route to avoid putting in the effort needed to be good homeopaths. Over time, this will reduce the number of skilled homeopaths and will be a dangerous matter for the future progress of our system of medicine. I presume the same would be the case for the other AYUSH streams.

4. Pharmaceutical companies will be very happy at the increase in their profits by getting lakhs of more practitioners who will prescribe their medicines.

5. As it is, conventional medicines unfortunately have loads of side effects. We regularly see patients in our practices, who come for problems and actual diseases that have arisen due to some side-effects of conventional therapy. It is possible that the AYUSH practitioner will be easily blamed for every side-effect that a patient suffers from. The side-effect will be attributed, not to the chemical drug which is actually responsible, but to a lack of skill in the AYUSH practitioner.

6. As a final point, let the Government ensure that every student receives good training and practical experience before they venture out as physicians. Let every physician develop the skill, and practise the field of medicine they were trained in. As homeopaths, let us not forget that we have the possibility of doing great things to improve the lives of our patients, bringing cure in so-many problematic chronic cases, and yes, we have the ability to be life-savers as well, if sufficiently skilled in our science. And this satisfies the soul. Isn’t it worth it?