Indian Systems Of Medicines in the Treatment of Cancer

The incidence of cancer throughout the world has kept an upward trend over the years and has emerged as a leading cause of death. It causes no less than 19 percent of all mortalities in the developed countries with the world average accounting for 9 percent.

In India also the trend has been no different. Over five lakh new cases of cancer are reported to occur every year in the country and above three lakh die of it each year. The actual figure, however, could be much higher and alarming as there is no authentic registry/data available that takes into reckoning the many cases that occur in remote areas having only meager or no communication system, and also those cases that do not get reported or do not report. The problem in such a situation gets further accentuated when we consider the vastness of the country, its burgeoning population, the limited resources we have and the low doctor-to-patient ratio that is obtaining at present in the country.

available and viable avenues of management of cancer need to be assessed and augmented, and new one explored. Naturally then, in such circumstances it is not only desirable but also essential that we give and restore due and simultaneous status to our traditional gems of ancient Indian system of medicine, such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani, that have stood the test of time and served the health needs of the nation and the neighbouring countries since ages.

It was in this context that the Waterfalls Institute of Technology Transfer (WITT), organised in February 1996 a Seminar on the "Role of Indian Systems of Medicine in the Treatment of Cancer: under the aegis of Indraprastha Cancer Society and Research Centre. The aim was to gather experts from Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani and other Newer Systems of Medicine at a common platform, and bring to light the current state-of-art in each system in order to create awareness for strengthening mutual cooperation, that could ultimately forge into a holistic, integrated approach resulting in rich dividends.

The Seminar was intentionally restricted to 50 participants with a view to deriving maximum interaction and cross-fertilisation of ideas among the experts attending the Seminar. In all 21 papers including backgrounders, and 4 communications wee presented and deliberated upon. Since these papers contain a wealth of information, WITT decided to publish the Proceedings of the Seminar and disseminate these widely for better benefits.

The Proceedings have been structured session and system-wise in order to afford easy location and access to a particular system of medicine and the target paper. Part I, containing the Report on the Seminar comprises 4 sections. Section 1, gives a brief account of the background to the Seminar, about the Seminar and conduct of the Seminar. Section 2 covers the Inaugural Session, which was so graciously inaugurated by Prof V Ramalingaswamy, Former Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research. It gives a summary of Prof Ramalingaswamy's thought-provoking inaugural address and gist of the presentations of the Backgrounders, Keynote Address and the Special Lecture.

Section 3 reports on the system-wise and paper-wise presentations made in each of the four Technical Sessions, and questions and comments raised in an open session, and the responses of experts on pertinent aspects of various systems. Section 4 incorporates the Concluding Session comprising deliberations in brief and summing up.

Part II of the Proceedings reproduce the texts of the backgrounders, keynote address, special lecture and all other papers submitted system-wise under Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani and Newer Forms of Treatment, and the Communications. Annexures I and II at the end contain the Seminar Programme and List of Participants.

WITT is hopeful that these proceedings and papers will serve the purpose of spreading the word on the capability and status of our own systems of medicine and how much and how far these could be used in fighting not only the dreaded disease of cancer, but also the other ailments. WITT will be happy to receive any comments and critique on the coverage of the this volume; these will surely go a long way in assisting us improve our services in future.

New Delhi Dr K V Swaminathan
10 October 1996 Chairman, WITT