Thousands of doctors across the country on Friday staged protests and joined a strike called by the Indian Medical Association against the Centre’s move allowing postgraduate practitioners of Ayurveda to be trained in performing surgical procedures, reported The Indian Express. The strike involved the withdrawal of non-Covid and non-essential activities from 6 am to 6 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.

The Indian Medical Association had condemned the move, terming the decision as a “deceptive camouflage of mixing the systems of medicine”. The Ayush ministry then issued a statement clarifying that the amendment was specific to 58 surgical procedures only. However, in a statement issued last month, the body of medical practitioners said: “It is nothing but a blatant attempt at mixopathy and Khichdification of medical education and practice.”

On Friday, doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and various other government-run hospitals in Delhi and the municipality-run Hindu Rao Hospital performed duties while wearing black armbands and ribbons, The Indian Express reported.

Dr R Sharma, National President of the Indian Medical Association, pledged support to the strike and said: “Modern medicine is controlled and research-oriented, we are proud of the heritage and richness of Ayurveda but the two shouldn’t be mixed.”

The Resident Doctors’ Association of AIIMS Delhi issued a statement in support of the strike and urged the government to retract the notification of the move. “This step will not only encourage already rampant quackery, but also undermine the safety of public,” the statement said.

Dr Kamlesh Saini, Secretary of the Gujarat unit of Indian Medical Association, told PTI that over 30,000 doctors were part of Friday’s strike. Dr Ashok Rai, President of the association’s Uttar Pradesh unit said that 21,500 members were observing the strike. In Maharashtra, over 1 lakh doctors participated, according to the Times of India.