The AYUSH ministry will strive to raise awareness and publicize the rewards associated with the practice of yoga: Sarbananda Sonowal

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Union Minister for AYUSH speaks to The Hindu on Yoga Day, recommending yoga for school and college students and standardization plan for AYUSH medical interventions and medicines.

Union Minister for AYUSH speaks to The Hindu on Yoga Day, recommending yoga to school and college students and the standardization plan for AYUSH medical interventions and drugs.

What is the program planned by the ministry ahead of Yoga Day for India and the international community? Which countries have we partnered with for this initiative?

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the celebration of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the Ministry of AYUSH has decided to observe the countdown to the International Day of Yoga ( IDY) 2022 from the 100th day from March 13. During this period, each day, a Yoga Mahotsav will be observed in a designated city each day. Until June 21, 100 cities across India will celebrate this health and wellness festival.

The ministry will leverage its reach through social media platforms. The MyGov platform of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology will launch citizen-centered outreach and engagement activities and the AYUSH Ministry will work to raise awareness and spread knowledge about the rewards associated with the practice yoga.

We join forces with various industry bodies/associations such as ASSOCHAM, FICCI, CII, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry as well as leading yoga organizations and institutes to observe International Yoga Day. The ministry will coordinate with overseas missions through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to make it a grand event across the globe.

Will yoga be made compulsory in schools and as part of the training of undergraduate students in allopathy?

The ministry has requested the National Medical Commission (NMC), National Homeopathy Commission (NCH) and National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM) to introduce yoga into their curriculum.

As part of the center sponsored program of Samagra Shiksha, realizing the need for holistic development of children, a physical education and sports component has been introduced to encourage sports, physical activities, yoga, extracurricular activities , etc In addition, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has made health and physical education compulsory in all grades I to XII.

Schools were advised that health and physical education comprises three areas, namely health education, physical education and yoga, and that these three areas are essential to achieve holistic health (physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual).

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) recommends yoga as an integral part of health and physical education. The National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has already developed integrated curricula on health and physical education from Class I to Class X.

What is the future plan in terms of standardizing medicines and therapies so that they can be shared with the national and international community?

The central call laboratories for Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathic Medicines, namely Indian Medicine Pharmacopoeia Laboratory and Homeopathy Pharmacopoeia Laboratory (PLIM and HPL) have been merged into the Commission Pharmacopoeia of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (PCIMH) in 2020-2021 with a vision to optimize the use of infrastructure, technical manpower and financial resources of the three to improve the results of standardization of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathic medicines for their effective regulation and quality control.

This merger will facilitate the focused and consistent development of AYUSH drug standards and publication of pharmacopoeias and formularies.

The standards of identity, purity and strength of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathic medicines are developed by the respective Pharmacopoeia Committees working under the Pharmacopoeia Commission of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (PCIM&H).

Authorized limits of heavy metals, pesticide residues, aflatoxins and microbial load and standard operating procedures for the manufacture of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and homeopathic medicines are also given in pharmacopoeias and formularies. These pharmacopoeias and formularies are published by the central government and are included in the Medicines and Cosmetics Act 1940 as authoritative books for quality control purposes.

To preserve the authentic samples of the medicines mentioned in the ASU&H Pharmacopoeias, PCIM&H has also started the upgrading of the existing medicinal herb gardens in the premises with financial assistance from the NMPB.

So far, government has released Ayurvedic Formulary of India (Part I-III) containing 986 formulations, Siddha Formulary of India (Part I-II) containing 400 formulations and National Formulary of Unani Medicine (Vol. I-VI) containing 1,230 formulations. Quality standard monographs of 645 unique drugs and 203 Ayurveda formulations; 139 unique drugs and 1 siddha formulation; 298 unique drugs and 201 formulations of unani; and 1,117 homeopathic medicines (Vol. IX).

In addition, the ministry is also implementing the new central sector program for Ayush Oushadhi Gunavatta evam Uttpadan Samvardhan Yojana with a financial expenditure of ₹122 cr. for 2021-2026. One of the components of the program is to support the development of standards and accreditation/certification of AYUSH products and materials in collaboration with relevant scientific institutions and industrial R&D centers.

It is observed that while these indigenous standards for some parameters differ from each other and for the export of herbs/herbal products, each importing country requires different standards. The Ministry, with the aim of initiating, coordinating, monitoring and rationalizing the exercise of standardization of pharmacopoeias, has initiated and is working on the “ONE HERB ONE STANDARD” concept.

Recently, PCIM&H entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with American Herbal Pharmacopeia, USA to promote the export of Ayurvedic medicines and raise international awareness of Ayurveda and other Indian systems of medicine. The first phase of developing monographs on the international standard has already been launched.

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