Ayush industry has colossal room for growth, both in India and abroad
India has much to offer the world in the field of traditional medicine, especially given that we have a rich tradition of knowledge and learning in streams like Ayurveda and Yoga. The Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (Ayush) industry has tremendous potential for growth – not just in India but across the globe. The pandemic has brought people’s attention to self-care, health and wellness and traditional remedies. There is increased demand for traditional medicines and therapies across Europe, the US, and Japan. In an interview with ET Insights, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of Ayush, explains how India is gearing up to become the epicenter of the global traditional medicine industry.
Q1. While Ayurveda has caught on in India, growing its acceptance in the lucrative markets of the West still requires considerable push. What is your assessment of the situation?
There is a global movement towards natural products and people are seeking answers in traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda which seek to cure through natural ingredients. Traditional medicine systems are drawing unprecedented interest. They are doing so based on their inherent strength.
We are working fast to foster wider acceptance of traditional medicine systems. In a short span of time, the Ayush ministry has collaborated with more than 50 countries to promote Ayurveda, Yoga and other Ayush streams. So, Ayurveda has really taken off, and people across the world have embraced it. A growing number of people are showing interest in learning Ayurveda and in working with herbs, roots, barks, and other plant ingredients to relieve pain and suffering.
Covid-19 has forced people to think of nature, and to get close to it, understand its power and heal with it. Some of the most reputed global institutions are working to back with clinical evidence and the positive role that Ayurveda has played towards Covid-19 mitigation. Our ministry has initiated clinical trials in collaboration with reputed institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa and Brazil, to test mutually identified Ayush formulations to aid recovery from Covid-19. I would like to cite the example of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which has tied up with the All India Institute of Ayurveda to conduct a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial on “Aswagandha for promoting recovery from Covid-19 in the UK”.
Q.2 How will the upcoming traditional medicine centre help increase the acceptance of these systems, at a time when dependence on allopathic treatments has increased drastically in the wake of the pandemic?
Traditional medicine systems are popular throughout the world. So much so that around 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicines for primary health care.
As many as 170 of 190 WHO member countries have reported the use of traditional medicine and their governments have sought WHO’s support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products. The setting up of the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) is a step to address this demand. It is a bold new vision to catalyze global advancement in medicine. The Centre in Jamnagar will support evidence and data in traditional medicine. It will build capacity for sustainable innovation in medicine by bringing together the latest technology and knowledge to advance our understanding of traditional medicine already in use by billions of people.
Our aim through the Centre is to marry ancient wisdom with modern science to help meet global health objectives. The Centre will enable equity in access to healthcare as innovation done here will serve the poorest, most vulnerable people across the world, promoting good health and wellbeing for all. While it’s physical location will be in Jamnagar, Gujarat, the Centre’s reach, and impact will be global.
Q.3 Ayurveda and other traditional medicine systems have not been able to truly benefit from the e-commerce and e-health boom. What will it take for them to truly benefit from these revolutions and not miss the bus?
I would like to state here that India has had some stellar successes with Ayurveda. The country is witnessing the rise of an entire crop of startups which are working in the domain of traditional medicine systems, including Ayurveda. These startups are attracting a large volume of private capital and are growing fast by proving their mettle to consumers. India’s e-health startups are investing in research in traditional medicine systems and are developing products not just for the local market but for the world.
Large corporates and startups alike are investing in traditional medicine, which is heartening to note. There is a race among companies to build natural products with proven efficacy. Many of these corporates are also investing in clinical trials for their natural formulations so they can prove efficacy to consumers. Now is indeed a great time for the growth of traditional medicine systems in India.
Q.4 How do you assess the growth of Ayurveda in India? Do you feel that more could have been done to help this industry reach an inflection point?
India is on a trajectory of fast-paced growth, and so is Ayurveda in India. The Ministry of Ayush has, ever since its establishment seven years ago, sought to create an environment conducive to this growth. The Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (Ayush) industry in the country is expected to grow to USD 23.3 billion this year. Ayush grew by 17% in 2014-2020 to reach USD 18.1 billion, according to a report by Research and Information System for Developing Countries. There is a lot that has been done to enable this growth.
The interest of consumers in traditional medicine systems is what will keep this growth going. And this interest stems from trust in the efficacy of traditional medicines and practices.