04/22/2022, 13.51
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India to introduce a special visa for Ayurvedic treatments

by Alessandra De Poli

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement at a recent Ayush summit. The market for traditional medicines is booming, in part thanks to the recommendations of the Indian government at the start of the pandemic. Exports may soon reach Africa.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Foreigners who want to come to India for Ayurvedic treatments will be able to apply for a special visa, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Wednesday at the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Ayush refers to a range of alternative and traditional Indian medical practices, such as naturopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda, unani and siddha.

World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Indian Ayush Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were present at the event.

“We are already witnessing unprecedented growth in the production of Ayush medicines, supplements and cosmetics,” Modi said. In 2014, “the Ayush sector was less than billion, today it has increased to more than US$ 18 billion,” he explained. According to some, the sector could exceed US$ 23 billion in 2022.

After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government began recommending the use of Ayurvedic products to boost the immune system against the coronavirus, leading, for example, to an increase in the sales of turmeric.

India’s Ayush Ministry claimed that a certain herbal medicine was “useful in the treatment of asymptomatic, mild and moderate Covid-19 infection as an adjunct to standard care” and that “The efficacy of these drugs has been proved through robust multi-centre clinical trials.”

Last year, the ministry cut red tape for licencing Ayurvedic products. “India will soon introduce the AYUSH mark” for “products vetted using the latest technology. This will give confidence to people of the world that they are purchasing quality Ayush products,” Modi explained.

According to ministry data, exports of herbal products topped US$ 539 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year, against US$ 425.8 million in the previous two years, up by 31 per cent over five years.

The main export markets are the United States and Germany, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, France, Nepal and China.

Modi noted that “Traditional medicine helped increase tourism in Kerala. This power is in the whole of India, in every corner of India. ‘Heal in India’ can become a big brand of this decade. Wellness centres based on Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, etc., can be very popular”.

For its part, WHO established a centre for traditional medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat. On Tuesday, Modi and WHO director general Tedros attended the foundation stone laying ceremony for the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, established with an initial funding of US$ 250 million from the Indian government.

Modi is clearly focusing on traditional Indian medical practices to make the country the world leader in the Ayush sector. In fact, he was confident that a unicorn (a start-up valued at more than US$ 1 billion.) could emerge in the Ayurveda sector.

“In 2022, so far 14 start-ups from India have joined the unicorn club. I am sure unicorns will emerge from our Ayush start-ups very soon," Modi said. And Africa could be the target market.

In February, former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga said that when his daughter complained of eye problems after she was operated for a brain tumor in 2017, she used Ayurvedic treatments in India and regained her sight after three weeks.

“By using these traditional medicines, she finally has her eyesight back and this gave us a lot of confidence. I have discussed with PM Modi to bring this treatment method (Ayurveda) to Africa and use our indigenous plants for therapeutics”, he said.

Another Global Centre for Traditional Medicine may soon open in Nairobi.

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