In a bid to boost educational opportunities in the field of traditional Indian medicinal systems, Centre is set to open more Ayush colleges in Jammu and Kashmir, senior government officials said on Wednesday.

Furthering the idea, Union minister of Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal, will inaugurate the first batch of bachelor of Unani medicine and surgery course at J&K’s first Government Unani Medical College and Hospital in Ganderbal in North Kashmir on Friday.

The new Unani Medical College & Hospital at Ganderbal has been set up at an estimated cost of 32.50 crore with a financial assistance of 17 crore from the Ministry of Ayush under the erstwhile Centrally Sponsored Schemes, 18.25 crore from the J&K government and 38.82 lakh under National AYUSH Mission to make the college operational. The college will have the annual intake capacity of 60 students in the BUMS course and the hospital will be a 60-bedded facility.

“Sonowal’s visit is a part of a significant outreach by the government in Jammu and Kashmir to send a strong message that the Centre is focused on the overall development of the Union territory. The Centre is keen to establish more projects for the development of Ayush sector in J&K,” said a ministry of Ayush official.

A seminar on ‘Ayush Interventions with special focus on AYUSH Health &Wellness Centres for development of Modern Kashmir, in Baramulla on Thursday is also scheduled. The Ministry of Ayush has shown keen interest in developing infrastructure to produce more Ayush practitioners and provide educational and employment opportunities to the youth. Sonowal recently announced a significant increase in financial support—from 9 crore to 70 crore—to ensure more Ayush colleges are opened across the country, with focus on unserved regions.

The central government claimed that while the Unani System of Medicine is more popular in Kashmir division, Ayurveda has more followers in Jammu division. Homeopathy and yoga and naturopathy, too, have a substantial number of followers in both Jammu and Kashmir divisions. Sowa Rigpa, a popular traditional medicine system especially in Himalayan states, is prevalent in Kishtwar district, it said.

The ministry of Ayush has sanctioned several other projects in J&K under National AYUSH Mission and erstwhile centrally sponsored schemes including a Government Ayurvedic Medical College at Akhnoor, five 50-bedded integrated Ayush Hospitals in the districts of Kupwara, Kulgam, Kishtwar, Kathua and Samba, upgrading existing infrastructure of 35 standalone Ayush Dispensaries, and upgrading 571 ayush dispensaries as health and wellness centres in a phased manner under the flagship programme of Ayushman Bharat.

In view of the rich potential of ‘High Altitude Medicinal Plants’ in the Chenab Valley, the ministry of Ayush has also approved the setting up of ‘Institute of High Altitude Medicinal Plants’ at Bhaderwah in Doda district, said another official.

To promote medical tourism, six specialized Ayush Wellness Centres will also be established at famous tourist hubs such as Katra, Patnitop and Mansar in Jammu division and Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg in Kashmir division.

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