India has many problems to solve. One of these is the problem of giving true medical relief to the people in the rural and the urban areas. The problem resolves itself in two parts. One part is to find out which of the several systems of medicines in vogue, namely Allopathic, the so-called modern medicine, Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic etc., does really cure, and the second part is how to fill up the great phenomenal deficiency of fully qualified men. About the first part, Shrimati Amrit Kaur autocratically assumes that modern medicine alone really cures. she has expressed this view to me in my interview with her.
Logically speaking she ought to abide by the decision of the Homoeopathic Enquiry Committee expressed in the table in paragraph 65 of their report that the antipathic method is pallative i.e. only give temporarily relief that the heteropathic method is empirical i.e. unscientific and the Homoeopathic method is curative.
If she does this she must come to the conclusion that the so-called modern medicine and Ayurvedic system also as practised to day, resorting almost always to the antipathic and heteropathic methods cannot really cure and that the Homoeopathic system of medicine research department of which Dr. Pandit is at present the had, the question which of the only three possible methods of treatment namely, Antipathic, Heteropathic and Homoeopathic is really curative and which of the several systems of medicine in vogue namely, Allopathic, Ayurvedic, Homoeopathic etc., resorts on principle to that curative method of treatment.
Until this question is satisfactorily solved she as an administrator ought to give equal treatment to all systems of medicines. But being convinced, as she says, of the real efficacy of modern medicine she does not give equal support to all systems of medicine. She ought to open Government Homoeopathic Colleges which she has not done. She only proposes to give some little financial help for upgrading the Calcutta colleges already run by popular support. This is a mere trifle if compared with the large amount that is spent over the colleges of modern medicine. The point is so clear that I need not dilate upon it.
On the second part of the medical problem, namely the filling up the deficiency of fully qualified medical men she or her advisers have given very little serious thought and have shut their eyes to the realities of the problems. It is admitted on page 34 of the summary of the proceedings of the first meeting of the Central Council of Health held at Hyderabad that there is a phenomenal shortage of fully qualified doctors and that the bulk of the present output of approximately 1600 qualified doctors per year from the 30 medical colleges in the country which in all provide for admission of 2500 students annually is needed to make good the wastage alone.”
The problem is really this. We require very large umber of medical men, and we cannot turn out that large number of medical men, and we cannot turn out that large number of fully qualified men. How to solve it? We here ought to consider if we require a fully qualified medical man for every kind of illness. A fully qualified medial man is a physician as well as a surgeon. Such men can be turned out in very small numbers, as they require much money and five years for their training or actually seven years if the training in the inter- science is taken into consideration. It is a reality that 99 percent of cases of illness require a physician and only one per cent of cases requires a surgeon.
If this reality is taken into consideration the problem of deficiency of medical men can be solved by turning out physicians competent to treat all non surgical cases and competent to advise the surgical cases to go to the surgeons; for, training of such men can be accomplished within a much shorter time and with much less expense. It is the training in surgery that takes much longer time. The period of two years is quite sufficient to train a man to treat non- surgical cases and to give proper advice to surgical cases, especially if they are trained in Homoeopathy or Schusslers Biochemistry.
Such a short course of training is the only way of solving the problem of deficiency of medical men. The Bhore Committee was appointed to solve the same question and it devised the primary unit, the secondary unit and the district unit. The work that is to be done in the primary unit and in the secondary unit is simpler that that to be done in the district unit which is to be provided with full-fledged-Doctors and full-fledged equipment. Cases that can not be treated in the primary unit and the secondary unit are to be sent immediately to the district unit. This is the plan of the Bhore Committee.
The short-term- course plan suggested above is similar. We should train men to do the simpler work of treating the non-surgical cases and manage to send cases that are difficult or surgical to fully trained doctors. The rationale of the short course is thus quite clear. But Shrimati Amrit Kaur ignoring the realities pointed above insists on all medical men being full-fledged doctors. She does not understand the practical principle that “half a loaf is better than no loaf at all.” Further she autocratically wishes to force her views upon the country. At Rajkot in the second meeting of the Central Council of Health, the question of the short course in Ayurveda was discussed. Seven ministers voted in favour of short course.
In the end probably fourteen voted against short course. In the resolution that was passed it has not been shown that it was passed by a majority of fourteen against seven. In democracy this is a necessary thing. The resolutions of the Central Council are only recommendatory and the higher authorities are likely to approve of the views of such a large minority. Therefore all the resolutions of such a council ought to show whether they were passed unanimously or by majority. But this has not been done.
When the question of training in Homoeopathy was discussed, the Health Minister of Madhya Pradesh requested her in writing to allow me (his adviser) to speak. But she refused on the ground that there was no time. This certainly was a mere pretext for the meeting that was planned to be finished by noon of 11th Feb. was really finished by the noon of the 10th Feb. This is all an act of sheer autocracy. She appears to be really afraid that my speech would have turned the scales against her.
The short course was thus banned. The country is to have full- fledged doctors. If a man on account of want of money or on account of distance can not secure the help of such a full- fledged doctor he is to go without any medical help. He has not the choice of being helped by a medical man less qualified but adequate for his case. (Be it here noted that in addition to banning of the short course, the practice of medicine by the private students of Homoeopathy and Biochemistry is also to be banned by legislation according to a resolution of the Council at Rajkot, so that if a man cannot get a full-fledged doctor he cannot get also a man trained by a short course or a man who has privately taught himself and is at present often confidently relied upon by sickmen.
Be it here also noted that even in England there is no such ban on the private students of homoeopathy and that here in India the private students are banned without providing any substitute. Be it also noted that the Homoeopathic or Biochemic treatment by private students will not practically do any harm, if it does not do any good, because medicines are given in very small quantity, and that therefore that treatment is better than no treatment at all.) To remedy this, she would advise the raw medical graduates fresh from the colleges to go to serve the villages before they can get their degree.
She does not understand that the poor villages will thus always be victims of the experiments of the raw medical graduates from the colleges and that the villagers would never get the benefit of mature and experienced medical men. She would also create auxiliaries trained for two years to work under the directions of full-fledged doctors, trained for doing preventive work only and for treating a few diseases or for using a few medicines like quinine. Such men cannot work independently and cannot treat all non-surgical cases. That is their deficiency. The preventible diseases are very few in number and there is a very large number of diseases (including the preventible ones, if they come in spite of the preventive measures) that require to be cured.
From this point of view men trained by the short course to treat all non-surgical cases would be much superior. Like the auxiliaries they would not be a burden on the Government. They would practise privately in the villages or amongst the poor masses, and earn their livelihood. The Government would have to spend only for their training or even private societies may train such men. In my interview with her at Delhi, she would give preference to such men trained by short course in the auxiliaries, after necessary training if any.