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Monday, September 19, 2011

Tamil Nadu to launch IGNOU's 'Grama Vaidya' certification to traditional healers

Pharmabiz News

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Monday, September 19, 2011, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
Tamil Nadu will soon become the first state in the country to launch the national scheme to be implemented by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for Accreditation and Certification of Prior Learning (ACPL) of the country’s traditional health practitioners. The University will honour the traditional healers with an award, ‘Grama Vaidya’.

ACPL is a scheme to certify and award the country’s genuine traditional healers who have been practising traditional system for years in the villages applying indigenous method supported by herbal drugs. The age old practitioners in the families who were trained by their ancestors and continue with the traditional knowledge of practice now are targeted for honouring the award ‘Grama Vaidya’. University is planning to introduce the project as a pilot study in 8 states in India including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

The project takes its course for the first time in Tamil Nadu and the Chennai based Centre for Traditional Medicines and Research (CTMR) has been identified as the coordinator for implementing the scheme in the state.

While briefing about the programme, Dr T Thirunarayanan, the Secretary of CTMR, said initially the scheme is implemented in Vellore district and multi-stakeholders consultative meeting was held in Chennai recently to discuss the subject of Minimum Standards of Competency (MSC) to be developed for implementation of the IGNOU scheme. He said advertisements have been given in vernacular news papers in the district inviting applications from traditional healers to select for the award. Out of the 50 applications the Centre received, 23 have been rejected due to bogus claims and mismatch between age and experience. Functional literacy and 10 years experience are the minimum qualifications required for the selection of the award, he said.

The University introduces the ACPL programme with a well planned scheme, for that it entered into an agreement with Quality Council of India (QCI) and Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLTH). The scheme of the IGNOU is financed by the Department of Ayush.

Dr Thirunarayanan said the standards to test the traditional treatment methods of the healers will be set by FRLTH and QCI will prepare the parameters required for recognition. CTMR will give training to develop minimum standards and a five member special medical team consisting institutionally trained physicians will assess the standards of the applicants through several methods including oral tests. The healers will have to demonstrate their practical skills before the panel.

The ACPL will include five traditional methods of treatment like jaundice treatment, performing midwifery, fixing bone fractures, treating skin diseases and snake bites.

According to CTMR this combined effort of IGNOU and Ayush department may be considered as an official recognition for the services rendered by traditional health practitioners in rural areas, and so far there is no national or state programme to include them into the ambit of community health workers.

When asked whether the qualified and registered ISM practitioners will object the ACPL awards by IGNOU as the scheme is likely to block their opportunities in the rural areas, Dr Thirunarayanan responded that there was shortage of qualified ISM doctors in the state to fulfill the needs of the villagers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Certification of Traditional Healers in Vellore district under scheme for Accreditation and Certification of Prior Learning

Village based Traditional Health Practitioners play a vital role in meeting the health care needs of especially rural populations in India. Presently, they provide health services for deliveries, bone fractures, dislocations and sprains, common ailments with herbal remedies, poisonous bites, jaundice, skin diseases, burns and so on, solely based on their social legitimacy. As of now, while there is a clear AYUSH Policy statement of Government of India (2002) which provides official recognition to the existence of Traditional Health Practitioners, there is no national or state programme that involves them in the role of Community Health Workers. This neglect inhibits the continuity of the great tradition of village based healers of our country.

In order to accredit and certify the genuine Traditional Health Practitioners, a national level pilot Scheme for Accreditation and Certification of Prior Learning (ACPL) of Grama Vaidyas is being launched by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in 8 selected states of India namely: Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu. In Tamilnadu Vellore district is choosen for the project.

The above mentioned ACPL scheme is financially supported by the Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. It is being initially implemented in selected streams of folk healing like mid wifery, bone setting, management of primary healthcare conditions with herbal remedies, etc in collaboration with Quality Council of India, New Delhi, Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IAIM), Bangalore and reputed Nodal AYUSH Institutions and NGOs in the selected states and districts. Centre for Traditional Medicine and Research , Chennai (CTMR) is the nodal agency for the pilot project in Tamilnadu.

The  Accreditation and Certification scheme does not involve conventional written examination to be taken by the Traditional Health Practitioners. Instead, it would be done through oral interviews and practical demonstrations of their skills. The evaluation panel would consist of reputed and experienced Traditional Health Practitioners from the respective States, AYUSH Physicians and Community Health Activists.

The village based Traditional Health Practitioners having more than 10 years of experience from vellore district and who are interested to obtain Accreditation were informed through press releases, Advertisement and through healers Association.

The applications received in the prescribed format along with necessary certification from Village panchayat and fulfilling the ten years experience criteria will be short listed for further evaluation by the evaluators. The date of evaluation for the first set of healers practicing jaundice healing is fixed for 25th Sept, 2011.

As Self assesment of fulfilling Minimum standards was facilitated by CTMR on 14th Sept.

An Evaluators board has been constituted for the purpose. The reputed and experienced Traditional Health Practitioners for specific areas like Jaundice and AYUSH physicians constitute this board. This board will be different from the collegiums and subject experts team which has finalized a Minimum Standards of Skills Document.

The Board of evaluators will assess the Prior learning skill of the healers by way of interview on the specific date using the Minimum Standards of Skills Document at a common place where the healer would be in a position to demonstrate the clinical skills like identification of the condition and suggest appropriate treatment methods as well as identification of herbs/ country drugs and demonstrate the preparation, administration of medicine. Based on the specific condition which is normally treated in the house of the healer/patient the evaluation will be done at respective site.The Evaluation board will recommend to the collegium the names of healers who fulfill the minimum standards requirement which will be forwarded to CTKS-IGNOU for certification.

There is lot of enthusiasm among healers for the scheme and this will pave way for identifying genuine healers of traditional knowledge.