With medical doctors going on strike again yesterday and making tens of thousands of poor patients suffer, the diagnosis is that a national health policy combining allopathy or Western medicine with the age-old healing processes of Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Acupuncture and other preventive or curative systems need to be worked out for Sri Lanka.
Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, speaking during a television dialogue on this issue said that at the request of the World Health Assembly, Sri Lanka in November would host an international conference on alternative medicine with international experts coming here from many parts of the world.
According to Dr. Senaratne most Western countries also are now gradually evolving from allopathy to the medical process described as genomics, which is based on the marvels of modern medical technology. A genome is an organism’s complete set of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), including all of its genes. Each genome contains the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome -- more than 3 billion DNA base pairs -- is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.
During the past few decades, the excessive use of antibiotics has made this one-time wonder drug often ineffective. Experts say it is also inconsistent. For instance in treating various types of influenza some people are cured in a day or two when they take a course of antibiotics, while others suffer for a week or more. In addition, to diagnose various diseases, most Western medical doctors – especially those working in big profit-making private hospitals -- are known to order various types of tests including endoscopies and colonoscopies for which patients have to pay about Rs.100,000. But a DNA test will show the root cause of the illness which may often be some vitamin deficiency in the diet.
Dr. Senaratne, who during the past few years has attended various international seminars on alternative medicine and the latest medical process of genomics, says that even for cancer most countries no longer use the painful and often ineffective radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Worldwide surveys have shown that less than 5% of cancer victims have survived after these therapies. Dr. Senaratne says that genomics or DNA tests on cancer victims have often shown the cause to be a lack of vitamin B17 and some doses of this vitamin have led to a cure. According to the United States-based National Institute of Human Genome Research, many are the benefits of genomics for medical science. Virtually every human ailment has some basis in our genes. Until recently, doctors were able to take the study of genes, or genetics, into consideration only in cases of birth defects and a few other diseases. These are conditions, such as sickle cell anaemia, which have simple, predictable inheritance patterns because each is caused by a change in a single gene.
With the vast trove of data about human DNA generated by the Human Genome Project and other genomic research, scientists and clinicians have more powerful tools to study the role that multiple genetic factors acting together and with the environment play in much more complex diseases. The NIHGR says these diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular ailments constitute the majority of health problems in most countries. Genome-based research is already enabling medical researchers to develop improved diagnostics, more effective therapeutic strategies and evidence-based approaches for demonstrating clinical efficacy. It also provides better decision-making tools for patients and providers.
Dr. Senaratne also disclosed that last month, along with about 100 Ayruveda specialists he attended an international conference in Kerala which has for thousands of years maintained the Sidda-Ayurveda process because the British invaders could not come there with their allopathy. Dr. Senaratne said that with the marvels of modern medical technological research, the Kerala Sidda-Ayurveda process had evolved into a virtual wonder because it worked with Mother Nature.
For the next generation or the smart generation we would hopefully see the widespread use of the marvels of genomics, Ayurveda developed with modern technological research and a combined medical process to make a healthier and happier generation. We also hope it would be considered a vocation and would not be turned into a business because, as social scientists have warned, if health is put in the market, then it means we leave the poor to die.