WHO Benchmarks for Training in Ayurveda

By: Dr. Brahmananda Nayak

Ayurveda or Vedic medicine is one of the oldest systems of medicine with its origin dating back to over 5000 years ago. This amazing science of natural healing was carefully nurtured by the seers and sages of ancient India through observation, experience and natural resources. The time proven formula of Ayurveda have stood through the tests of time and are going strong even today. In the past three decades, there has been a drastic surge in the popularity and acceptance of alternative medicines in the face of modern medicine.

Traditional medicine has strong historical and cultural roots and has a strong influence in developing countries. In countries like India, traditional healers are well known and respected practitioners in the local community. However, with the increased interest in the use of traditional medicine not only in India but all across the globe many players have duped the gullible people with fake claims.

As such the need of the hour was to introduce a system that could regulate the practice of Ayurveda therapy and prevent practice by unqualified practitioners. That’s why the world health organisation had introduced certain benchmarks for training in Ayurveda to qualify personals trained and fit for practice.

Understanding the WHO Benchmarks for Ayurvedic training

Ayurvedic treatment can be conducted by two types of experts: practitioners and dispensers. Practitioners are Ayurveda therapists who practice as Panchakarma therapists or Ayurveda dietitians. Distributors should also be trained in order to ensure safety and quality of the materials of Ayurvedic medicines.

Training for Ayurveda therapy practitioners should take into consideration:

Who is to be trained

The roles and responsibilities of the practitioner

Level of education needed to undertake training

Content of the training

The way training is to be provided and by whom.

Training for Ayurvedic Practitioner Category I, Type I Training

This training programme is designed for Ayurveda practitioners who are qualified to practice as primary-contact and primary-care practitioners, independently or as members of a health-care team in various settings.

This type of programme consists of at least 2500 hours, including classroom theory and practical sessions and followed by 500 hours of internship training in an Ayurvedic clinic or hospital.

Acceptable applicants must have completed high school or pre-university education, or equivalent.

Training for Ayurvedic Practitioner Category I, Type II Training

This training programme is for individuals with prior medical or other health professional training.

This programme typically consists of at least 1500 hours including classroom theory and practical sessions and following a minimum of 500 hours of internship training in an Ayurvedic clinic or hospital.

An applicant should have completed medical or other health-care professional training

Training for Ayurveda therapists – Category II, Type I training

This training programme enables the trainees to understand the fundamental principles of Panchakarma therapy and to become panchakarma therapists.

The programme requires at least 1000 hours, including classroom theory of 600 hours and practical teaching of 400 hours and followed by a minimum of 400 hours of supervised training in a panchakarma therapy centre.

Acceptable applicants for this type of training must have completed high school or pre-university education, or equivalent.

Training for Ayurveda dieticians – Category II, Type II training

The programme is to provide a comprehensive understanding of Ayurveda dietetics and to understand the importance of diet and nutritional elements in both healthy and diseased persons.

The programme requires at least 1000 hours, including classroom theory of 600 hours and practical teaching of 400 hours.

Ayurvedic dispenser and distributor training

This training is to provide knowledge and skills relating to mechanisms, procedures and techniques for the clinical dispensing and distribution of Ayurvedic medicines. As distributors and dispensers in primary contact health care, Ayurveda practitioners, dispensers, and distributors shall recognize the importance of quality of Ayurvedic medicines.

Training for dispensers of Ayurveda

The programme includes a minimum of 1000 hours of student-teacher contact consisting of theory and laboratory practice, including 200 hours of clinical dispensing and community work under the supervision of qualified dispensers of Ayurveda.

Applicants shall have completed high school education or equivalent.

Training for distributors of Ayurveda Practitioners

The programme consists of at least 300 hours of student-teacher contact, covering both theory and laboratory practice, including 50 hours of practical training under the supervision of qualified dispensers of Ayurveda in a community or hospital setting.

Acceptable applicants will typically have completed high school education or equivalent.

Adhering to these guidelines is important to validate and evaluate the traditional system of medicine being practiced in its authentic form. With such efforts at the global level, Ayurveda is sure to emerge as stronger, bigger and better nurturing the future generations with the treasure of the past.