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NEW DELHI: Following widespread outrage from doctors, India’s Minister of Health Dr Harsh Vardhan has asked controversial yoga guru Baba Ramdev to withdraw his recent comments accusing healthcare workers of a big number of coronavirus deaths as the country grips a second wave of the pandemic.
“The people of the country are very hurt by your remark about allopathic medicines,” Harshvardhan said in an open letter to Ramdev.
“You not only insulted the corona warriors, but you also hurt the feelings of the locals,” he said, as he asked the guru to “think seriously and withdraw your statements completely.”
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), one of India’s leading medical bodies, had previously called on the government to take action against Ramdev.
“We have already filed a complaint against him and sent a legal opinion. We will launch a national campaign, ”Dr Jayesh Lele, IMA secretary, told Arab News.
He added that Ramdev’s comments were “disheartening” for doctors and health workers, and “would hamper the fight against the virus.”
Lele said: “With her false claim, people will suffer because they will be reluctant to go to the hospital, delay treatment and fall prey to the virus. That is why the government should act against Ramdev. “
The popular guru, who enjoys massive worship across India on Thursday blamed medics for the growing death toll in the country amid a deadly second wave of coronavirus in the country.
“Patients have died from allopathic medicine, rather than lack of oxygen,” he told supporters in the northern Indian town of Haridwar, where he runs a center. training in yoga and oversees a $ 100 million business empire selling Ayurvedic products.
The use of traditional medicines has been widely encouraged by Ramdev, who also runs yoga camps attended by thousands of people in India and abroad.
When medics demanded action against the guru on Saturday, his deputy and senior assistant, Balkrishna, said the video Ramdev is heard making the comments was “truncated” and the yoga guru had “no bad feelings. will ”towards modern science. or its practitioners.
“It is necessary to mention that the event was a private event, and Ramdev was reading a WhatsApp message forwarded by him and various other members who attended the event,” Balkrishna said in a statement.
“He believes that allopathy is a progressive science and that a combination of allopathy, Ayurveda and yoga will be beneficial,” he added.
The controversy is not the first time Ramdev has ruffled feathers with his remarks.
As a divisive figure who is said to have close contact with government figures, Ramdev’s critics blame him for exploiting his followers to boost sales of his product lines.
In February of this year, he launched the Ayurvedic tablet Coronil, which could cure the coronavirus. At the time, Ramdev claimed the drug had received certification from the Ayush Ministry, set up by the Indian government in 2014 to promote alternative therapies, such as yoga and traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
During the drug’s launch, Ramdev said: “It will work not only for the treatment, prevention and cure of the coronavirus, but also for other symptoms.”
However, various experts and research studies have disputed his claims.
Dr Nirmalya Mohapatra, of the Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the capital New Delhi, said Ramdev “was doing this only to sell his product”.
Mohapatra added: “Ramdev’s statement is very unwelcome and will do more harm, and the government should make an example of him by filing a complaint against him.
“The fear is that people will not take care of themselves if they are infected.”
India recorded 240,000 cases and more than 3,700 coronavirus-related deaths on Sunday, a slight drop from the number of deaths reported last week.
The second wave was fatal for India, with thousands of lives lost due to a lack of oxygen and hospital beds.
Meanwhile, Ramdev’s statement also sparked debate in India over using homemade concoctions to treat the deadly disease, with experts fearing his ‘attack on modern medical treatment’ would further undermine India’s confidence. in science.
Dr Prashant Munde from the city of Pune in western India said he felt “demoralized” by the recent controversy.
Munde added: “For the past year, we have put our lives on the line to save lives despite limited resources, and if Ramdev speaks publicly against the doctors, it is not only demoralizing for us, but it is demoralizing. also limits our ability to convince people to receive vaccinations.
“The doubt created by these people affects immunization levels. Some districts in Maharashtra are resisting vaccination, and such a declaration will further strengthen this resistance.
He called on the government to boost the morale of doctors after “the loss of nearly 500 members in the past two months”.
New Delhi-based Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, national chairman of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, said Ramdev’s comments were “both political and inviting to violence against doctors.”
He added: “Ramdev’s type of follow-up will further increase reluctance to vaccinate among people and his supporters, and people will not take the medical fraternity’s efforts seriously.
“Ramdev has put health workers at risk, a group that is already facing emotional outbursts from people losing their loved ones. An anti-doctor statement from an influential person puts the lives of health workers, who are already taken to extremes, at risk. “
He accused the yoga guru of promoting “duplicate products by attacking medical science” and “doubted the government would take action against him.
“Ramdev is part of the ruling party’s ecosystem of promoting ancient Indian traditional science and religious texts and myths to the detriment of modern science,” Bhatti said, adding: “The promotion of science goes to the fore. ‘against the meaning of current political thought. “