Dubai: When Dr Shyam Viswanathan Pillai, an Ayurveda physician from Kerala in India, landed in the UAE in 2001, the traditional medicine that dates back thousands of years was not an officially recognised system of treatment here.
Dr Pillai, who eventually became the first licensed Ayurveda practitioner after the health authorities here began issuing licences in 2002, is now a proud holder of the prestigious UAE Golden Visa.
The UAE, which has been conferring the Golden Visa to allopaths, recently started issuing the ten-year residency visa to doctors practising Ayurveda and Homeopathy as well. Indian doctors practising these traditional forms of treatment, including Dr Pillai, have hailed the government for the recognition accorded to alternative and complementary medicines in the country.
“The growth of Ayurveda in the UAE has been substantial,” Dr Pillai, whose chain of clinics in the UAE currently has five branches, told Gulf News. He said the government issuing Golden Visas to Ayurveda practitioners is a great recognition for the impact they have made in health care in the UAE. “We are extremely thankful to the authorities for that,” he added.
Dr Pillai’s clinics alone have a database of around 50,000 patients in the UAE, he claimed.
Ayurveda is not just about massage therapy. Even surgical procedures can be conducted by Ayurveda doctors specialised in it, said Dr Pillai who has done his master’s degree in a branch of surgery (Shalya Tantra) in Ayurveda.
Beyond borders, religions
Dr Jasna Jamal, another Ayurveda practitioner who received the Golden Vtisa, said Ayurveda has grown beyond borders and religions to benefit the global community.
“The fact that the ancient Indian system of medicine can still be practised in countries like the UAE itself is proof that there are scientifically proven benefits from this system for the humanity,” said Dr Jamal who runs Dr Jasna’s Ayurveda Clinic and Treatment Centre in Al Mamzar. “Ayurveda has long been recognised as a medical science and one must undergo entrance exams and attend professional courses to qualify as a practitioner,” she added.
Having received her licence in the UAE 12 years ago, Dr Jamal said the role of Ayurveda in preventive medicine and for managing several chronic health issues has been really big since it enhances the body’s healing system.
She said patients in the UAE are mainly seeking Ayurvedic treatment for neck pain, back pain, arthritis, skin diseases, sinusitis, migraine and for supportive care for chronic patients and even those suffering from cancer.
“The government granting Golden Visa to us will boost the confidence of people in Ayurvedic treatment. It is a great recognition for me,” said Dr Jamal.
Dr Dubey Jose, who was one of the first Ayurveda practitioners to receive the Golden Visa on June 4, said the gesture showed that the UAE government’s appreciation for traditional forms of treatment, which her family has been practising for three generations.
“My grandfather and my dad were Ayurveda doctors back home. They used to treat patients with even psychiatric problems,” said Dr Dubey, who currently works with Ayurway Ayurveda Centre in Karama. “I have been in the UAE since 2013 only. Yet, the government has been considerate in issuing the Golden visa,” she said.
“It is a special title that is awarded to doctors only in the UAE. This recognition is like a lifetime achievement. I consider this as a stepping stone in my career,” said Dr Dubey.
Flexibility, future model
Meanwhile, Dr Pillai pointed out that Golden visa will offer the holders the flexibility to work with different health-care facilities. “With the Golden visa, Ayurveda practitioners will be able to work with multiple health-care providers. It will benefit a wider group of patients,” he said.
He cited the inclusion of an Ayurvedic centre — ‘Vaidyashala’ — at Burjeel Day Surgery Centre in Abu Dhabi, as a model of integrated medical systems which, he believes, will be the future of medicine.
Also working as the CEO of Vaidyashala, Dr Pillai said the facility has integrated Ayurveda into modern medicine.
Open since December 2020, the facility gets referrals from different departments in the surgery centre. “From orthopaedics to gynaecology and dermatology, we get referrals for Ayurvedic treatment from various departments.”
Impact of Homoeopathy
Homoeopaths, who received the Golden Visa, are also elated about the recognition accorded to the impact made by the complementary treatment systems in the UAE. Dr Neetu Nicholas, a homoeopath living in the UAE for 20 years, said receiving the Golden Visa on June 15 was the proudest moment for her ever since she started practising in the UAE in 2007.
“I was on my husband’s visa till then. When I got the Golden Visa, without being an investor, I felt it was a great recognition for homoeopathy. Residents working only in a few professions are entitled to it and the government including homoeopaths in that category is a big deal for us,” she said.
Currently practising at Jupiter Al Nahda Poly Clinic and Houston Clinic in Al Barsha, Dr Nicholas said her entire family had been proud and happy about the achievement as her grandfather, mother and brother have all been homoeo practitioners and her family also used to have a manufacturing unit of homoeo medicines back home. “I am hopeful that many more will receive this recognition.”
Dr Nicholas said she was also happy about the perks that come along with the ten-year visa. “My kids are now above 18 years. My 22-year-old son is studying in the UK. Now I can sponsor him for ten years and I can go home and come back anytime as the UAE is allowing Golden Visa holders to return from India on regular flights.”
Dr Devinder Kapoor, a homoeopath with Chiron Clinic in Sustainable City, said she felt blessed to be in the UAE when she received her Golden Visa on Sunday.
“There are no recurring expenses for visa renewals. This category will be given special preference to travel. So, in case of emergency, I can go home.”
Alternative medical practitioners with Golden Visas are glad that they can also switch jobs because they do not have to be dependent on any particular company’s visa and can also sponsor their children for a longer time.
Homoeopathy for post-COVID care
“I have been here for almost 14 years. I have observed that people are increasingly looking for complementary and alternative medicines, especially during the hard times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Kapoor. She said: “Our system has of late provided efficient treatment for post-COVID complications. Homoeopathy is very good for boosting the immunity and for releasing toxins from the body. Hence, it is helping in addressing post-COVID complications.”
“There has been more awareness about the effectiveness of homoeopathy. It will become even better now. We are really grateful to the UAE authorities for that,” added Dr Devinder.