KARACHI, Jan 17: A lack of interest, planning and almost negligible financial allocation by successive governments have hampered promotion of alternative medicines, including Unani or herbal medicine and homeopathy, in the country.

This was the talking-point at a seminar, titled “Alternative Medicine in Pakistan: under-recognized or over-recognized”, which was organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation on Thursday at the Vicky Zeitlin Media library.

Explaining his point of view, Prof Hakim Abdul Hannan, faculty of eastern medicine and principal, Hamdard Al-Majeed, College of Eastern Medicine, Hamdard University, said that alternative medicine was never accorded recognition at official level in Pakistan as the bureaucracy always discouraged moves for its proliferation.

“Its survival in the post-independent era rested on the masses who reposed confidence in its potency by seeking treatment from homoeopathic and Unani doctors for treatment of their major health problems,” he added.

He said before the advent of colonialism in the subcontinent alternative medicines remained the sole source of solving health problems of a large number of people.

“However in the post-British era Allopathy mode of treatment largely replaced alternative medicines which is now recognized as a major source of treatment of almost all diseases,” he said.

He said unlike Pakistan, all governments in India lent importance to homeopathy and Unani medicines in an exemplary manner by establishment of a large number of research institutes and its inclusion in their health policy.

Hakim Hannan lamented that in Pakistan only one government college of Unani medicine had existed at the time of independence in Bahawalpur which had been closed down due to unknown reasons.

Citing role of Hamdard University in promotion of alternative medicine in Pakistan, he maintained that its founder Hakim Saeed had always striven for making this aspect of medicine popular among the masses in Pakistan who due to growing level of poverty were unable to seek treatment of Aleopathic medicines.

Referring to a lack of financial earmarking by the government for alternative medicine, he claimed that the government annually allocated Rs5,000,000 for 26 private colleges which was quite insufficient to meet their requirements.

However he appreciated the efforts of the present government for the promotion of alternative medicines in the country as it had established a task force which held regular meetings at the National Institute of Health for considering ways and means for its promotion.

Dr Riaz Bhatti, senior pharmacist, Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre, articulating his point of view over the issue said: “Recently we have seen a boom in various systems of alternative medicines as more and more patients are opting for alternative system of medicines.”

There was a renewed interest in these system of medicine which had long been discarded in pursuance of the dynamic science of Allopathy. However after decades of obsession with the modern medicine system that came from the West to India as elsewhere across the globe, people had started looking at this ancient system of treatment again, he said.

He claimed that the most significant reason which disturbed and agitated minds of the people at large and patients in particular, causing interest in alternative medicines, was the increasing side-effects of Aleopathic medicine.

Dr Jawaid Shah, chairman, Pakistan Homoeopathic Physician Society, disclosed that a research centre building constructed for conducting research in Karachi had been lying vacant for the last eight years as the centre had been shifted to Islamabad where a heavy monthly rent of Rs35,000 was paid by the government which was draining its resources.

“All efforts by the authorities to draw the attention of the federal government towards the anomaly has failed to elicit any result. Consequently all research activities planned for upgrading standard of homoeopathic education in the country has failed,” he added.

He said that homoeo medicines had been utilized globally for the last 200 years.

He said there was a lack of awareness among the media and the masses about the use of alternative medicines.

Dr Usman Ghani Khan, Head Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology, Faculty of pharmacy, said that the ministry of health was least interested in recognizing the significance of Unani medicine.

He said that Unani medical colleges existed only in Punjab while in rest of the three provinces there was no such institute.

Earlier Samina Ishaq, director of PPF, spoke about the signifinace of holding seminars regularly on different topics which were aimed at creating awareness among the masses.—PPI

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