Reaching out to the world
CFO Insights in conversation with Dr. Mukesh Batra, Founder and Chairman Emeritus, Dr Batra's Group of Companies, on the evolution of homeopathy in India How has the consumer attitude towards homeopathy evolved over the years?
Consumer attitude towards homeopathy has evolved greatly over the years. When I entered the profession, homeopathy was regarded as an ancient art, little better than faith healing and practiced mainly by amateurs and retirees. In fact, when I thought of setting up a venture, no financial institution was ready to provide me funds, as no one believed in homeopathy.
Homeopathy has faced strong opposition from the conventional medical community too. Maybe because it came with a different philosophy altogether that focused on holistic healing, unlike conventional treatment that focuses on offering symptomatic relief. However, despite the aversion, homeopathy strived only because of its proven efficacy in treating medical disorders without side-effects. More and more people have started to trust homeopathy.
Today, homeopathy is the world’s second largest system of medicine and over 50 crore people worldwide use homeopathy. In India, it is followed by over 10 crore people. The growth of homeopathy in India has been mainly led by increased awareness amongst patients about its safety, efficacy, long- term benefits and cost effectiveness.
As per the IMRB survey on ‘Acceptance of Homeopathy in India’ conducted last year, it was noted that 59% people have shifted to homeopathy in the last one year. About 78% of the total people surveyed felt that homeopathic treatment is safer than allopathy. The survey further highlights that over 60% people believe that homeopathy works best in chronic and lifestyle related diseases as they don’t find complete relief from allopathy.
How does the Indian market for homeopathy compare with the global market? Can India be positioned as a preferred global destination for homeopathic treatment?
Globally, France is the largest contributor in the world for homeopathy, being used by 40% of the French population. Germany is the second largest market for homeopathy with 27% Germans using it. It is also used in the US and the UK. In England, 42% per cent of the physicians refer patients to their homeopathic counterparts. In fact, the royal family has used homeopathy for three generations. It is also the part of NHS (National Health Scheme).
The organised homeopathy market in India is estimated at INR 2758 crores and is expected to more than double in the next 5 years. The country has the largest number of homeopathic practitioners in the world and also the largest number of colleges in homeopathic education. There are around 200,000 registered homeopathic doctors, and approximately 12,000 new homeopathic doctors are registered every year. The course curriculum in homeopathy is one of the most well-defined medical courses in our country.
India can be the preferred global destination for homeopathic treatment, as it has the largest number of doctors who are qualified with great experience. Dr Batra’s Academy, a joint venture with MUHS (Maharashtra University of Health Sciences) is already conducting a course for Fellowship in Dermatology. It also gets a group of doctors from Portugal, London and Brazil to study homeopathy in India.
There is often a debate on conventional vs. homeopathic system of medicine. In your view, does the homeopathic system complement or substitute the conventional medicine system?
There are always two sides to a coin. All forms of medicine have their pros and cons. Therefore, no system of medicine can substitute the other. However, homeopathic medicines can compliment allopathic treatment. Homeopathic remedies are not known to interfere with conventional or any other type of medicine. You can safely take homeopathic medicine with your regular medicines for blood pressure, thyroid, heart problems, diabetes, and other ailments. Though, it is always recommended to consult a doctor before making any changes in your existing allopathic treatment, clinical evidence shows that conventional medicine and homeopathy work well together in treating certain disorders.
One such research was conducted in Athens to check the compatibility of homeopathic and allopathic medicines in controlling diabetes. It was found that a group treated only with conventional medicine showed 47% improvement, while the one treated with allopathic and homeopathic medicine together showed an impressive 97% improvement.
What enabling government policies are needed to promote homeopathic system of medicine in India?
Homeopathy has all that it needs to be the most ideal healthcare system in our country, thanks to its cost-effectiveness, efficacy and safety. In current times, most people and patients also find the ‘individualised’ approach of homeopathy particularly appealing. A survey conducted by A C Nielsen reports that 62 per cent of current homeopathy users in India have never tried conventional medicines. Also 82 per cent of homeopathy users would not switch to conventional medical treatment. I would therefore strongly recommend the government support for the following to promote homeopathic system of medicine in India:
Standardisation of education:
Standardisation of education is important. Homeopathy colleges have to be good in terms of infrastructure and quality of education provided
Standardisation of guidelines for practicing:
There should be standardisation of guidelines for clinical and ethical practice for alternative medicine practitioners
Homeopathy treatment in every hospital:
Every allopathic hospital should have a homeopathic division (IP + OPD) so that patients have a choice of treatment
Healthcare insurance must cover homeopathic treatment
Government funded research:
A step in the right direction is a grant for research in homeopathy by the central government and the fact that they have given INR 5400 crores for research in homeopathy
While Indian pharmaceutical exporters have made a mark in the global market, can the Indian homeopathic drug manufacturers replicate this success?
We are a long way away from this presently. There are very few good quality manufacturing houses in India. The few that are there are with international collaborations. There has to be greater drive towards better and higher standards of quality in India to deal with international markets. Indian homeopathic medicines are not perceived as being quality driven, especially in the western world. This would need a far better quality control and marketing by Indian companies.
What is the current R&D focus in homeopathy in India? What are the initiatives taken by Dr Batra’s Healthcare in this regard?
A lot of R&D is normally done by pharma companies. Since there is no strong body for homeopathic manufacturing in India, research is not fully funded. Therefore, it has to be carried out by the state or central governments. Budgets and infrastructure for R&D needs to be allocated by the government. While it is happening in some parts, a lot more needs to be done.
At Dr Batra’s, our medical team is constantly searching for better and faster treatment for our patients. Every year, we select doctors from our panel with 100 cured cases as per clinical evidences and authenticated by medical specialists to send them for national and international conferences.
Till date, we have submitted research papers on Psoriasis, Alopecia Areata, and URTI in children at LMHI (Liga Medicorum Internationalis Homeopathica) and HMAI (The Homoeopathic Medical Association of India).
Dr Batra’s has also brought about a lot of medical innovations like:
Dr Batra’s is the first homeopathic institute in India to introduce the blister packing of traditional white pills to retain the medicinal properties in their purest form until they are consumed. This innovation has helped treatment outcomes by ensuring that the right quantities of dosage as well as sealed and unadulterated medicines are consumed by patients.
E-medical records were first introduced at Dr Batra’s in 1982 and have consistently undergone innovations since then. Patients do not have to carry their reports to see our doctors as all medical records are saved for the patient’s lifetime. The centralised recording of data enables patients to consult our doctors in any of our clinics across the world and our state-of-the-art IT system speeds up and improves medical decision making.
Scientific evaluation of treatment outcomes:
At Dr Batra’s, we believe in scientific evidence. We have, therefore, developed and incorporated various scientific treatment measurement tools at our clinics. Some of them are: video microscope - a simple and painless test that magnifies your hair and scalp 200 times which gives our doctors an idea of the type of hair loss and scalp condition. We introduced India’s first 3D imaging device to analyse skin health. With advanced optical technology, this device is a scientific breakthrough that allows the skin to be viewed in 2 and 3 dimensions for more effective diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders.
Dr Batra’s MOST:
This is a proprietary tool used to evaluate the extent and response to the treatment of various skin disorders. It has been developed exclusively for Dr Batra’s and is available at all our clinics.
It is a tool used to scientifically evaluate the treatment outcome for respiratory patients.
What are some notable instances or ailments wherein homeopathy based medical interventions have proved to be more effective than the conventional form of treatment?
Few years ago, the Union Cabinet sanctioned INR 4,000 crores for the treatment of Japanese encephalitis in Bihar and UP. Compare this with the outbreak of viral encephalitis in Andhra Pradesh some time back. One million people were given the homeopathic remedy, Belladonna. Not a single person died in the epidemic. The cost of treating one million people through the homeopathic preventative was less than INR 10 lakhs.
Several lifestyle ailments like hypertension and diabetes are better managed with homeopathy than with conventional medicine. In addition, rising stress levels and psychosomatic illnesses also make the homeopathic concept of mind-body medicine all the more relevant.
In the recent past, there has been a spate of illnesses with varied names — chikungunya, dengue and swine flu. They have plagued mankind and killed thousands worldwide. Homeopathy, which improves one’s immunity, is ideal for such global epidemics. Historically too, homeopathy has proved its therapeutic efficacy in epidemics — especially, the ‘killer’ flu that swept and ravaged Europe and America in the early part of the last century.
A study on the homeopathic medicine Lycopodium 30C showed its benefits on high blood pressure, cardiovascular ailments, improving memory, reducing inflammation and providing over 60% protection against alcohol-induced gastric ulcer.
The homeopathic remedy Rhustox 200 has been found to work effectively for relief from pain and stiff joints in rheumatoid arthritis.
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