ISLAMABAD: Student Enrolments in Unani Medicine colleges all over Pakistan have decreased sharply in recent years.
There are 34 colleges-mostly in Punjab- that train students to get a diploma in Unani Medicine. Their popularity has greatly diminished in the past four years, as student Enrolment in these colleges has dropped from more than 4000 students to just 1200 per annum, according to Hakeem Kamran Chughtai, registrar of the National Tibb Council (NTC).
Unani Medicine, also known as Unani Tibb, is an alternative form of medicine widely practiced in the Indian subcontinent. The medicine works on the concept of restoring the balance between four humours in the body, phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile.
Teachers of Unani Tibb blame the lack of government’s patronage for its declining popularity.
Hakeem Munawar Sheikh, President National Tibb Council, said, “Other countries earn billions of dollars from herbs but we have been completely ignored.”
Sheikh said that there was a need to legalise Unani Tibb in the country so that fake practitioners could be weeded out.
He added that they had forwarded a proposal to the Higher Education Commission to declare the Tibb diploma equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.
He also stressed the need to set up a research centre for students of Unani Tibb.
However, the lack of government patronage is not the only reason why students are distancing themselves from Unani Tibb.
A student, who asked not to be named, said that the diploma offered by NTC takes four years to complete and costs about Rs60,000.
“My prospects after graduating are not very bright. None of my seniors got a job,” he said.
Opening up a private practice is also not a viable option for many. Hafiz Ashfaque, who runs a Unani Tibb clinic, said that people prefer to visit only those Hakeems (practitioners of Unani Tibb) who are prominent.
NTC President Sheikh conceded that many of students of Unani Tibb failed to get jobs after completing their diplomas, which is another major deterrent to potential students.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2010.
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