|Monday, 16 August 2004|
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Ayurveda as an answer
It sure comes as a surprise that Sri Lanka spends some Rs. 500 million a year on Ayurvedic medicinal imports, while we possess the resources in abundance to produce our own drugs of this kind. No less a person than President Kumaratunga has called on the Central Provincial Council authorities to explore the possibility of setting-up Ayurvedic laboratories and medicinal herbal groves in the province, towards re-establishing an indigenous production base in this variety of medicinal drugs for, which, at one time we enjoyed regional fame.
We prefer to use the term re-established in this context because our historical chronicles record a time when Sri Lanka was highly self-sufficient in this respect. One such epoch was the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods when Sri Lanka's landscape was dotted with hospitals and healthcare centres, which - of course - dispensed Ayurvedic medical treatment to the needy and the sick. Such a system of medicine functioned under the patronage and guidance of our kings of old, some of whom were themselves sage physicians. So, it is in the fitness of things that the highest political authority in the land espouses the cause of an independent, indigenous medicinal base. Historical tradition is hereby being conformed to and the country being saved a massive amount of foreign exchange.
Here's where the Provincial Councils could, indeed, play a positive role. The Ayurvedic system of medicine should be made to flourish and show results because for the average rural dweller, Ayurvedic medicine remains a valuable source of health and well-being.
In fact, for quite a few debilitating illnesses Ayurvedica medicine remains the final answer. It is therefore the duty of the central and provincial authorities to ensure that our indigenous medicinal base is re-established and made to flourish.
It is the gradual erosion of this indigenous medical system which has led to patients even from the far-flung rural regions of the country, thronging our public sector hospitals - even those in the metropolis.
This in itself is a tragic tale which reflects on the scant care and attention political establishments of the past have been lavishing on those indigenous systems in particular which have been sustaining the common man over the ages and on the public welfare system in general which has been allowed to fall into decline.
However, we welcome this profound interest shown by President Kumaratunga in the indigenous system of medicine.
People need to get back to those salubrious roots which have been sustaining them, particularly those which have been nourishing them spiritually, morally and physically. Those were indeed times when man was healthy, emotionally as well as physically. He was certainly far more humane and tolerant.
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