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September 2007  
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Kerala Healthcare

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Ayurveda: A Gold Mine for India

The medical tourism market in India was estimated at $330 million in 2004 and it will be $2 billion by 2012 as per estimates by the Indian ministry of tourism. This estimate is based on foreigners arriving for heart surgery, bypass operations and other major treatment at India's high-tech hospitals. The Ayurveda medical tourism which will reach every village in India without any high-tech hospitals is thereby not included in the above estimate.

According to the WHO, chronic diseases are the major cause of death and disability worldwide, and increasingly affect people from developing as well as developed countries. This reflects a significant change in diet habits, physical activity levels, and tobacco use worldwide as a result of industrialisation, urbanisation, economic development and increasing globalisation of food market. An estimated 177 million people are affected by diabetes. Two-thirds live in the developing world. More than one billion adults worldwide are overweight, and at least 300 million of these are clinically obese. People worldwide are consuming more foods that are energy-dense, high in sugar and/or saturated fats or excessively salty.

The scientific evidence is strong that a change in dietary habits and physical activity can powerfully influence several of these risk factors in populations. Heart attacks and strokes kill about 12 million people every year. In addition, 3.9 million people die annually from hypertensive and other heart conditions. Up to 80 per cent of cases of coronary heart disease, 90 per cent of type 2 diabetes cases, and one-third of cancers can be avoided by changing to a healthier diet, increasing physical activity and stopping smoking.

Established scientific evidence suggests there are major health benefits in eating more fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and whole grains, daily physical activity, moving from saturated animal fats to unsaturated vegetable oil-based fats, cutting the amount of fatty, salty and sugary foods in the diet and maintaining a normal body weight. Almost all of the above health issues can be addressed through Ayurveda. Treatment of chronic disease like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, spinal disorders, arthritis, asthma, migrane, impotency etc play a vital role in Ayurveda. Chronic diseases arise out of wrong way of life as above described, thereby disturbing the balance of 'vata', 'pita' and 'kapha' elements. Ayurveda knows how to correct the imbalance of the elements, thereby free the patient from these chronic diseases. Ayurveda, a universal care system, being developed and practiced in India since 1,500 BC is a blessing for mankind. The physicians or 'rishies' preserved their findings on treatments for coming generations since 1,500 BC on palm leaves. Such documents are still preserved. Ayurveda has effective remedies for chronic diseases. The Western medical system have failed to offer any effective curative treatment against chronic diseases. They just try to suppress the symptoms for a while, the real cause remain suppressed which later become chronic.

Ayurveda can help these patients. But how to help them? They first need consultation with a doctor, who is specialised in that field. Only after due consultation a treatment can be planned out. There is no efficient system to satisfy this demand. Such a system is now for the first time implemented in www.ayurveda-portal.com where a panel of doctors is available for customers worldwide to speak to individually. Joseph Kaduthanam from Germany who had initiated Ayurveda medical tourism in 1985 has developed this portal. A documentary on Ayurveda treatment broadcasted in Germany in 1988 trigged off a boom in Ayurveda medical tourism to Kerala.

It is high time the Government of India and the tourism department promote Ayurveda Medical Tourism to villages of India, by offering financial help to Ayurveda doctors to improve facilities in their hospitals and resorts to attract guests from all over the world. This would improve employment opportunities in Indian villages and would generate more revenue than medical tourism to high-tech hospitals.

In 2004, Christina (a 15-year-old German girl), who had collapsed in her school was put on wheel chair for five months. As she got no medical help from German doctors, her father approached Joseph Kaduthanam who was known as an Ayurveda tour operator in Germany to inquire about Ayurveda treatment. After a week’s search, Kaduthanam could suggest an Ayurveda doctor in a remote village in Kerala. After studying the case history Dr Sreekrishna from Nelluvai, Trichur agreed to treat her. After one week of treatment, the girl got control over her legs and started walking. After four weeks of treatment, she went back to Germany leaving her wheel chair in the hospital. Dr Sreekrishnma explained she had a viral attack in her stomach which had attacked her nervous systems laming her legs. Coming back to Germany, Udo Wirz, the father of the girl asked Kaduthanam to create a software method to give access to such an efficient treatment system for the outside world. This prompted him to develop a software. After three years of development, the Ayurveda portal is now on line.

The Ayurveda portal has several functions:

  • Consultation facilities with specialised panel of doctors.
  • Education on Ayurveda: its history, principles—vata, pita kapha theory.
  • Various treatment methods and herbal plants used.
  • Search facility on Ayurveda hospitals, resorts.
  • Online instant booking and payment gateway facilities.
  • Global Ayurveda directory.

This portal is linked to more than 1,500 travel agents, 2,000 yoga centers, to promote Ayurveda medical tourism to India. It gives links to more than 3,000 organic bio-shops worldwide, so that patients after an Ayurveda treatment can continue their diet.

On July 29, 2007, the Ayurveda Hospital Management Association honoured Joseph Kaduthanam as the brand ambassador of Ayurveda.

A week earlier, the media had already selected Kaduthanam as Ayurveda brand ambassador. A suitable title he deserves.


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