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To cater to contemporary society:

Indigenous medical system needs improvement

"Plans are afoot increase the "Z" score to absorb students to the Institute of Indigenous Medicine (IIM), to produce competent graduates in Ayurveda and Unani Medicine. Through this mechanism, it is intended to increase the standard of IIM. The Institute is now ready for Outcome Base Education and Student Centered Learning. We will be shortly moving for quality assurance and accreditation of our programs as well as the Institute. We empower our students with scientific knowledge and research methodology. Double Blind Randomized research are important in the process of manufacturing effective and safe indigenous medicines following a scientific process.


Ayurveda herbs

Then the quality of Ayurvedic medicine can be ascertained, Acting Director of IIM Dr. M.W.S.J. Kumari said in an interview with the Sunday Observer.

The IIM, University of Colombo, Rajagiriya will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Shanthi Lanka Ayurveda (Private) Limited in Japan tomorrow (27) to conduct short term indigenous medical training courses to Japanese students. The course duration will be one month and theoretical and practical knowledge will be given to students . Fourteen types of Courses such as Certificate Course in Ayurveda Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Ayurveda Beauty Care, Ayurveda Massage Therapy, Yoga and Relaxation Therapy, Ayurveda Rituals, Baby Massage, Sri Lankan Medical Plants, Mother and Child Care (Holistic Approach, Elders' Care, Aromatherapy and Longevity and Anti-aging will be held.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Dr. W. Kumara Hirimburegama and proprietor of the Shanthi Lanka Ayurveda (Pvt.) Ltd. Japan Mr. Zuiko Tokunaga will sign the MOU. Managing Director Ms. Shoko UMEHARA will be also be present, Dr. Kumari said.

"Indigenous medical system of this country has not fully been recognised yet eventhough it caters tremendously to keep up the health indicators of the country. People were not aware the significance of this system earlier but now the trend is changing. The indigenous medicine system has close links with our heritage.

Oil therapy.

Now, people are aware of the importance of the Ayurvedic Medical System for the prevention of a large number of diseases and for health promotion. It is also the answer for rapidly evolving non-communicable and chronic diseases. Now Sri Lanka is in urgent need and is searching remedies to overcome diseases like AIDS, Dengue, Cancer, Diabetes, Hyperlipidemia, Heart Disease and Chronic Renal Diseases.

The Bandaranaike Memorial Ayurveda Research Institute(BMARI) has launched advance research projects where IIM Consultants are greatly involved as resource persons with the invitation of the current Director of BMARI, Professor K.K.D.S. Ranaweera.

Our ancient knowledge was stored in Ola-leaves and hand written manuscripts. At the time when Sri Lanka was dominated by the colonialists, most invaluable heritages belonging to this country were destroyed", Dr. Kumari said.

In countries such as India and China there is opportunity to study their indigenous medicine system just like in other health streams. The traditional medicine system is also known to Allopathic medical students as it is their native medicine.

In Sri Lanka it is different. These as two different entities. Now this trend is gradually changing.

Director Dr. M.W.S.J. Kumari

Allopathic doctors too have started to pay attention towards this system and there is an interconnection between these two sectors to some extent.

The relationship between all medical systems is needed to overcome the paradigm shift of illnesses in the Sri Lankan context and there should be mutual esteem for the other system.

"When the people are specialized in their own medical system, they can practise it easily and develop. Western doctors in certain countries also know Ayurveda. But when compared to Allopathic medicine, the indigenous medical system has not been given due recognition. Indigenous medicine is practised in our country for more than 5,000 years. The Sane Pulasti, a great physician of Sri Lanka has participated at the first world Congress of Health held at the foot of the Himalayas to find a solution for emerging diseases and propagate Ayurveda", Dr. Kumari said.

"The Indigenous medical system should be improved to cater to the needs of contemporary society or according to the changes take place in the medical world", she said.

"We don't know the value of our own medicine. In certain phases we are degrading valuable things. This attitude should change. We can add some more value to our indigenous medical system in future", the Director said.

"The indigenous medical system should be expanded even beyond our territory. We have taken steps to promote the indigenous medicine system in foreign countries", she said.

"We have set up two Ayurvedic Health Promoting Centres in Melbourne and Canberra in Australia in 2009 under public-private collaboration with the help of the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine.

We should encourage monitoring such programs for sustainability. We can do a lot for the promotion of Health with the guidelines of Ayurvedic ethics and code of conduct. There is a huge demand for purification processes (Purva Karma and Panchakarma),

Ayurveda Massage Therapy, Yoga and meditation and rejuvenation therapy in European countries" Dr. Kumari said.

In Ayurveda there are health promotive measures such as how to produce a healthy child, the daily routine and how to adopt for seasonal changes. There are many ways to maintain the health condition of a person.

When one is infected with disease he or she will be provided treatment. Prevention is primary and that helps to promote health, she said.

"In our Health promotion Centres in Australia Yoga, beauty therapy, oiltherapy, rejuvenation therapy and Ayurveda massage therapies are done.

Herbal tea is also given in those centres considering their body constitution.", she said.

"During the colonial era we lost our invaluable traditional medicina books. Earlier, indigenous medicine was practised by bhikkus and practised in temples. There was a close link between indigenous medicine and Buddhism. the Anuradhapura era was famous for traditional medicine and was destroyed by the imperialists.

Books on medicine belonging to our forefathers should be protected for our next generation. The hand-written books are the experience of our indigenous medical practitioners. Using these books the new generation can learn a lot about traditional medicine.

In the ancient history of this country, kings had also been indigenous medical practitioners. Kings Maha Parakramabahu and Ravana were famous physicians, There is a saying "Rajakama nethnam Vedakama"- If you don't become a king, you become a doctor, this quotation shows the nobility of the Indigenous Medical Profession." Dr. Kumari said.

A small description is included In Social Science and Health to educate students abut Indigenous Medicine, but it is inadequate. Many schools maintain herbal gardens even in the Colombo district", she said.

Information Technology Division.

"Students also do small projects about Ayurveda. The IIM has introduced many programs to schoolchildren to create awareness in indigenous medicine and its importance. Already, the IIM has organised four exhibitions this year including Deyata Kirula, Kuliyapitiya and Expo International Exhibition held in Kandy.

Rare medicinal plants like Bin Kohomba and other valuable medicines like kotalahimbutu, Ratnitul and Madara were exhibited. Our aim is, to educate the public and school children about their own heritage, value and protect it.

We also plan to set up a stall at the coming Deyata Kirula Exhibition. The lecturers and students are also being trained to educate the target groups", Dr. Kumari said.

"We held an exhibition at Alawwa, Rahula Vidyalaya from October 3 to 7 and the next exhibition was held at Prince of Wales Maha Vidyalaya, Moratuwa from October 16 to 19. The school children were also made clear of the missions and visions of IIM and the method of getting admission for this sector", she said.

IIM has set up a medicinal plant house in the Institute premises, in the plant house rarely found varieties of medicinal plants are preserved. The students are also taught how to maintain a plant house and what kind of plants can be preserved. A Tissue culture laboratory is also available at the IIM, the Director said.

The 2nd International Conference on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Traditional Medicine will be held from December 16 to 19 this year under the theme "Ayurveda the Medicine of today". This conference is organized with the close supervision and the guidance of the Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, Dr. Kumara Hirimburegama and Chairperson of the University Grant Commission, Senior Professor Kshanika Hirimburegama.

In line with the Conference an Ayurveda Expo will also be held. Inauguration ceremony will be held at Waters Edge, Battaramulla on 16 December and scientific sessions will be held at the IIM Rajagiriya on December 17 and 18, We welcome all the well-wisher from different disciplines. She said.

"An Ayurvedic Expo will be held in line with the exhibition. Special stalls will be set up for Sri Lankans and foreigners. Some Special stalls will be set up to make the students aware of indigenous medicine, medicinal plants, treatment systems and the human body. Students and teachers are invited to participate in the exhibition which is to be held in line with the second international conference at IIM premises, Rajagiriya. We want to make the students and public aware of traditional medicine of this country", Dr. Kumari said.

"Ayurveda Expo will provide a platform to exchange knowledge between the countries which participate in the conference. I anticipate that representatives from European countries including Britain will participate in the conference. A business Forum will also be held in line with the conference", she said.

New Indigenous Medicines in various formulations will also be exhibited.

The public as well as professionals will get advantage to acquire the knowledge of new arrivals, she said. "We have targeted to launch 160 research papers during the conference. Already 80 research papers have been received. We need to highlight this is the medicine the people today need", she said.

"M.D. Ayurveda and different Postgraduate students can also participate. Those who do researches on traditional medicines will also be given opportunity to take part in the conference and to submit their research papers", she said.

"Government Jobs are the main problem faced by the ind genous medical graduates. We can't always depend on the Government for jobs. We have a Career Guide Unit in the IIM. We want to reform it. The Management Board which gathered recently decided to set up a committee to assist the students.

We will empower the students with clinical and drug manufacturing knowledge. We also want to enhance trade skills of students."she said.

Syllabus of IIM has been changed to produce indigenous medical practitioners suitable to the contemporary society. Certain special plans will be implemented in future to improve the indigenous medical sector of this country, Dr. Kumari said.

Besides, Dr. Kumari said that there are so many drug manufacturing companies in Sri Lanka. "Yoga Sangraha Kamituwa" in the Ayurvedic Department regulates the manufacturing activities of indigenous medicines in Sri Lanka.

The drug manufacturers should get the permission from the committee. While manufacturing drugs or medicines the quality should be maintained.

"Double Blind researches are important in the process of manufacturing indigenous medicines, but still we are away from it, there are a few such research projects. If Double Blind researches are done to ascertain that standard medicines are produced in the country. We can get the patrons while exporting quality products. High quality should be maintained in the production process of traditional medicines, she said.

Dr. Kumari expressed confidence that indigenous medical graduates more suitable to the contemporary society with new revised Curriculum can be produced by 2017. English and Information Technology are taught to students and they have been made compulsory and foundation subjects. Soft skills are also taught to students.

"Current employment ratio of indigenous medical sector is nearly 30 percent in government sector according to a survey of Higher Education Ministry by the date of convocation.

Jobs for Allopathic graduates and Engineers are assured. We should take necessary steps to recognize potential area s of Job market for Indigenous Medical Graduates, strengthening them with the required skills to fit for the local and global demand ", she said.

"The IIM has implemented a project titled 'Higher Education for 21st Century' (HETC).

The Government has allocated Rs. 6 million to empower students with IT and English. If we can produce graduates with professional qualifications, employment for indigenous medical graduates would not be a major issue", she said.

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