India mull global standards to market Ayush products, services

Traditional system of medicines is a major contributor to India's GDP, in which Ayush medicines and services are generating $43.4 billion in revenue

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New Delhi: Secretary, ministry of Ayush, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha on Wednesday said that India is setting up global standards for its traditional system of medicines so that they are internationally recognised and get access to markets of over 150 countries.

Kotecha said this at the 7th edition of Mint Healthcare Summit in New Delhi. He said that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has already published 50 standards for Ayush medicines, which are now being converted to International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) standards.

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Elaborating, the Ayush ministry secretary said that India’s traditional medicines were being rejected even as supplement as drug regulators in certain countries had been asking for standards of the products, which at present, the countries had not formulated. “So, we are working with BIS and it has already published 50 such standards which we are willing to convert to ISO standards. Once that happens, our products would be allowed in more than 150 countries,” he added.

A senior officer of the ministry said that a technical panel for Ayush is being set up within the ISO and all Ayush facilities are being asked to get them certified by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH), including their labs. Similarly, all Ayush educational institutes are being encouraged to obtain the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation to get the international branding.

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“So far, as many as 153 Ayush hospitals and 40 Panchakarma clinics have already got accreditation from their respective apex bodies,” added the secretary.

According to the ministry, the traditional system of medicines is a major contributor to India’s GDP, in which Ayush medicines and services are generating $43.4 billion in revenue. The ministry is making all out efforts to enhance the contribution of traditional system of medicine to 5% of GDP by 2047 from the current 1%.

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Officials said that exports of Ayush products and services, which stood at $ 1.54 billion (₹114 billion) in 2021, would go up to around $2 billion within a year once the they are certified for global standards. “We are in touch with department of revenue to get the right HSN code for traditional Indian medicines,” Kotecha said.

Although, Ayush exports are already valued at over $6.5 billion, but quantification of the exact product and services is not possible due to issues with the generic HSN code categorization. The ministry of Ayush has signed MoUs with foreign partner nations as part of its global outreach initiatives. Currently, there are 24 country-to-country level MoUs, 46 institute-to-institute level (research) MoUs, and 15 academic chair-level MoUs. Additionally, there are 39 Ayush Information Cells located in 34 countries.

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The ministry has already mounted efforts to expand the adoption of Ayush medicines through evidence-based studies. Under the National Ayush Mission, a total of 8,132 Ayush health & wellness centers have been operationalized to cater to 8.42 crore beneficiaries till last year. Additionally, 137 units have been supported for the establishment of Integrated Ayush hospitals, and 113 Ayush Educational Institutions have been upgraded. The number of Ayush hospitals has increased to 315, while the number of Ayush dispensaries has risen to 5,023.

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