Homoeopathy in India

Homoeopathy which was introduced in India approximately two centuries ago, is an important component of India’s pluralistic health care system. The Government of India has made sustained efforts for growth and development of Homoeopathy and other traditional systems of medicine including Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Sowa Rigpa. (collectively identified by the acronym AYUSH). Due to the sustained efforts of the government, an institutional framework of Homoeopathy has been established at the Centre as well as in all the states. There exists a highly commendable infrastructure in the form of 195 undergraduate and 43 post graduate homeopathic medical colleges with regulatory mechanism for quality university education, autonomous research council with 22 institutes and units; 2,83,840 registered homoeopathic practitioners; drug safety regulations with 403 drug manufacturing units.

AYUSH services are included in the health care delivery system of the country at all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary health care. The Government of India has a number of programmes and initiatives for promotion of AYUSH systems and an increase in health care coverage in the country. The regulations ensure that quality of care is maintained and medical pluralism permits patients to opt for treatment of their choice.

Healthcare services in Homoeopathy are provided by 235 hospitals and 8117 dispensaries run by state governments and municipal bodies, Central Government Health Scheme, labour ministry and railway ministry. The Government of India launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), to carry out necessary architectural correction in the basic health care delivery system in the country. A strategy in the NRHM is to mainstream the Indian systems of medicine and Homoeopathy to facilitate health care through these systems. Under NRHM, AYUSH facilities have been co-located in 512 district hospitals, 2739 community health centres and 9112 primary health centres in 2015. “AYUSH Wellness Centre” has recently been inaugurated by Hon’ble President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on 25th July 2015 at the President’s Estate, New Delhi.

Since the last two decades there is a consistent focus to enhance quality of services, with initiatives to upgrade education, research and drug development and escalate health care delivery for which many initiatives have been taken up by the Government of India. These can be seen at http://ayush.gov.in/.

History of Homoeopathy in India

Homoeopathy was introduced in India when some German missionaries and physicians started distributing homoeopathic medicines amongst local inhabitants. However, Homoeopathy took roots in India in 1839 when Dr. John Martin Honigberger successfully treated Maharaja Ranjit Singh for the paralysis of Vocal Cords. Dr. Honigberger settled in Kolkata (the then Calcutta) and became popular as Cholera-doctor. Later, Dr. M.L. Sirkar, a reputed Physician of his time, also started practicing Homoeopathy. He edited the first Homoeopathic Journal ‘Calcutta Journal of Medicine' in the year 1868. In 1881, many renowned physicians including Dr. P.C. Mujumdar and Dr. D. N. Roy established first Homoeopathic College - the ‘ Calcutta Homoeopathic Medical College'. Dr. Lahiri, Dr. B. K. Sarkar and many others made personal efforts in establishing Homoeopathy as a profession. They are well known for their contribution to the growth of Homoeopathy not only in West Bengal but also in the whole country.

Over the years, the number of amateur homoeopathic practitioners grew steadily and most of them approached the Government to accord recognition to Homoeopathy. The turning point came in 1937 when the Central Legislative Assembly resolved, “That this Assembly recommends to the Governor General in Council that he may be pleased to introduce Homoeopathic treatment in government hospitals and give homoeopathic colleges in India the same status and recognition as in the case of allopathic colleges”. Later, in the year 1948, the same Assembly adopted yet another resolution about Homoeopathy, which was followed by constitution of the Homoeopathic Enquiry Committee. In 1949, this Enquiry Committee submitted its report recommending that Central Homoeopathic Council be constituted. In 1952, a Homoeopathic Adhoc Committee (later re-christened as ‘Homoeopathic Advisory Committee' in 1954) was constituted, which was to advise the Government on all matters related to Homoeopathy, namely homoeopathic education, homoeopathic research, regulation of practice, pharmacopoeia, rural medical aid, drug manufacture, family planning, financial aid to homoeopathic colleges, dispensaries, hospitals and cooperation with International Homoeopathic Medical League. In 1973, the Parliament passed the Homoeopathy Central Council Act for regulating homoeopathic education and practice in the country.