The Indian Medical Association on Tuesday called for the withdrawal of non-essential and non-Covid services on December 11 to protest against the Centre’s decision to allow post-graduate Ayurveda practitioners to perform general surgeries related to ophthalmology and dental procedures, PTI reported.

Emergency services will continue to function, along with Intensive Care Units and Cardiac/Coronary Care Units, but no elective procedures will be performed during the protest from 6 am to 6 pm, the medical body announced. It also called for public demonstrations on December 8 and said that participants will adhere to Covid protocols and protest in small groups of 20 between noon and 2 pm.

Last month, the Central Council of Indian Medicine – the regulatory body for the study and practice of Ayurveda in India – amended the Indian Medicine Central Council (Post Graduate Ayurveda Education) Regulations, 2016, to include the regulation to permit post-graduate students of Ayurveda to receive training and practice of “shalya” and “shalakya”. While shalya refers to general surgery, shalakya is related to diseases of the ear, nose, throat, head, eye, and oro-dentistry.

After the move was condemned by the Indian Medical Association, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, or AYUSH, issued a statement clarifying that the amendment was specific to 58 surgical procedures only. Terming the decision as a “deceptive camouflage of mixing the systems of medicine”, the medical body rejected the clarification. “It is nothing but a blatant attempt at mixopathy and Khichdification of medical education and practice,” the Indian Medical Association said last week.

“The recent policy tilt as evidenced in the medical pluralism advocated by the National Education Policy 2020 and the four committees of NITI Aayog for officially integrating the systems of medicine in medical education, practice, public health and administration as well as research ostensibly for a one nation one system policy will ring the death knell of modern medicine system as a whole,” IMA National President Dr Rajan Sharma said.

He added that the notification on Ayurveda surgery as well as the “entitlement to study and practice independently have to be seen as another step in advancing and legitimising mixopathy”. The association demanded an immediate withdrawal of the notification as well as the NITI Aayog’s decision to form four committees.

“IMA will be constrained to intensify the agitation until the steps towards implementing mixopathy are abandoned,” the organisation’s Secretary General RV Asokan said. “IMA has appealed to all the sister professional speciality organisations, the organisations of medical college teachers, government doctors, resident doctors associations apart from medical students and hospitals associations to support its cause to retain the separate identity and existence of modern medicine.”