MEDICAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICES
CONSCIOUSNESS OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND MEDICAL FACILITIES and consequent growth of them is a development of recent origin and could be attributed to western education which made its impact in the early decades of this century. The populace was not disease-conscious and rarely availed of medical facilities. A disease was, most of the time, ascribed to some evil influence rather than any physical disorder and the only way thought fit to propitiate the disease was by offering some sort of sacrifice. The field of the medical profession was dominated by the vaidyas, the vaidus, the hakims and such other persons. The vaidyas used to give treatment according to the ayurvedic system of medicine. Their knowledge represented a combination of what they inherited from their forefathers and the practical experience they acquired in course of their medical practice. Most of them used to diagnose the disease by nadipariksha, the feeling of the pulse. The vaidyas commanded great respect and practised mostly in the rural areas of the country. Their medicines were cheap and reliable. That the ayurvedic system of medicine prevailed throughout the ages in India is clearly evident from the fact that it was regarded as an integral part of the Indian culture. We find in Sanskrit literature voluminous treatises on the subject such as Sushruta, Madhava Nidana, Vagbhata, etc. The system of diagnosis by vaidus did not essentially differ from the ayurvedic system of medicine. However, the vaidus formed a class by themselves. They moved from place to place and had a good knowledge of rare herbs with rich medicinal properties. In the absence of specialised veterinary practitioners, they occasionally treated the live-stock.
The modern and up-to-date maternity facilities were conspicuous by their absence and pre-natal, post-natal and anti-natal care of the expectant mother was the sole responsibility of the elderly ladies in the joint families whose practical personal experience was of immense value for the purpose. The female nurse who acquired a sort of specialised knowledge about deliveries rendered extremely useful service.
During the last few decades, the allopathic system of medicine, had made a great impact on the minds of the people. Relatively, the importance of the indigenous systems of medicine dwindled considerably. Due to the intrinsic value of the indigenous systems
of medicine, efforts are now made at Government level to revive them.
Now-a-days, most of the practitioners in indigenous systems of medicine combine
allopathy with the one followed by them. With the great strides made in the
field of preventive inoculations and injections, the diseases like plague which
once made life of the people miserable have been completely eradicated. With the
progress made in obstetrics and gynaecology and due to the loss of faith in
superstitious beliefs, consequent upon the spread of education, people have come
to place more reliance upon medical care and cure.