The presence of a reputed college, hospital, research center is all a part of the solid ecosystem for Ayurveda in the state. Here PK Ghate, President, Bharateeya Sanskriti Prabodhini, speaks to Serilda Coutinho on range of issues. He says that, Ayurveda is the new medium for entrepreneurship for graduate students
Q: Recently an Ayurveda youth festival was organised by the AYUSH ministry. How much has it helped to popularize this stream of medicine?
The message goes to the masses that Ayurveda is popular form of medicine and it also helps us in increasing admission for our course as students are encouraged to take it up as a profession. Some of our senior professors are invited to UK, US and Russia for consultation and to deliver lectures at least once a year. So you can see the popularity this field of medicine is receiving.
Q: There is an institute of Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy opening in Pernem. How will it benefit the locals?
We cannot expect students to travel from North Goa to Shiroda to pursue a degree in Ayurveda. There was a need for another institute to cater to the rush and increase the intake capacity in the state. So far there were only hospitals and research centers open. A new institute will encourage locals to take up Ayurveda.
Q: Is it easy to practice Ayurveda in Goa looking at the competition from allopathic and homeopathy medicine?
There is a huge scope for pure Ayurveda practitioners as patients making a switch from allopath and homeopath medicines. The medicines make use of herbal products derived out of plants that have no side effects. There is treatment for 70-80 percent of the ailments under this school of medicine.
Q: What professions do students opt for post the completion of the course?
All pass outs are gainfully employed as doctors, nutritionists, beauticians and even set up their own yoga studio or wellness center to explore the new mediums of entrepreneurship. The number of students opting for post graduation studies has increased as this enhances their job prospects and they can further choose teaching as a profession. Under the ministry of AYUSH and Goa University our college has got the approval to conduct post graduation courses with an intake capacity of 12 students that will begin from this academic year onwards. There will be two courses offered for PG one being Kayachikitsa (general medicine in Ayurveda) and the other Rasashastra (pharmaceuticals of Ayurveda). In the future we plan on adding post graduation courses such as Prasuti Tantra (gynecology) and shalakya (ENT) to the existing two courses .
Graduates have also started their own Panchakarma centers. The state policy has also encouraged primary health centers and district hospitals to have a separate department for Ayurveda and employ at least one doctor in each center. As a result of this initiative 25 of our students have got placed in government service and 35 are working for private hospitals in the state.
Q: How has the presence of an AYUSH minister helped boost Ayurveda? Are there any special grants received at the state level?
Yes definitely as it helps in putting across our proposal at the central level with the assurance of a prompt follow-up. The government of Goa had gives us a financial grant of Rs three crore towards developing the infrastructure in terms of building additional structures and purchasing medical equipments for the institute.
Q: How challenging is the sourcing of ingredients for practitioners?
Our professors encourage local landlords to cultivate medicinal plants in their backyard by providing them the technical guidance on the kind of soil suitable for the plants and nurseries to source the saplings from. Later the produce is purchased by our manufacturing unit to make medicines. Currently we have 10 medicinal gardens cultivated by local landlords located in Opa Khandepar,Valpoi, Porvorim , Canacona and other parts. Cultivators receive a grant of up to Rs10 lakh based on the area and the plants grown on the land under central scheme. However there is a need to have financial schemes at the state level to encourage local farmers and landlords to utilize their land to grow medicinal plants on a large scale. Locals will be able to earn a steady source of income through such gardens.
Q: How much of Ayurvedic medicines are made in Goa?
We have a medicine manufacturing unit in the college itself where the oils, churnas and bhasmas are manufactured as there is a functioning ayurveda hospital called Kamakshi Arogyadharma attached to the college. About 80 percent of the medicines are manufactured in-house. It is a must to have this facility so that students understand the manufacturing process. In Goa there are two manufacturing units for Ayurveda medicines but we have a vast distribution network from the neighboring states to source medicines so there is no shortage.
Q: Are you satisfied with the progress of Ayurveda in the state? What is the scope of improvement if any?
Yes the job opportunities are ample and the support received from the government is also encouraging. However we need more doctors to practice at the village level so that the Ayurveda services are available across the state.
Q: How many Ayurveda graduates pass from the state college?
We have strength of around 300 students spread across the four and a half year course with one year of internship. Till date we have had more than 600 Ayurveda graduates who have passed out from our college. An encouraging response is that from the past three to four years about 80 percent of the students studying in the college are Goans. Apart from them we get students from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and even Jammu and Kashmir.