Kumaragara, Rakshakarma and Special Care Neonatal Unit: A Critical Review
The protective rites of a newborn are an important part of neonatal care according to Ayurvedic principles. Similar to the organization of Special Care Neonatal Unit (SCNU) which is essential for reducing neonatal mortality and improving quality of life of survivors, Ayurveda advises meticulous organization of sutikagriha (the puerparial room) and kumaragara (the infant care room) along with rakshakarma (protective rites) for maintaining strict asepsis and providing a healthy environment to the mother and infant. An understanding of these protective rites and infant care room is mandatory to incorporate the Ayurvedic neonatal care into the modern neonatal care which is attempted in this paper. Relevant Ayurvedic treatises like Charaka Samhita, Susruta Samhita, Kasyapa Samhita, Ashtanga Sangraha and Ashtanga Hridaya were studied along with the guidelines by National Neonatology Forum of India for the setting up of a Special Care Neonatal Unit (SCNU). A comparison of the kumaragara and rakshakarma with Special Care Neonatal Units of modern neonatology reveals that highly recommended aseptic measures in the form of rakshas or amulets, dhupana or fumigation, vigil for graharoga or infectious diseases, etc. were followed in Ayurvedic nursing homes even before the advent of modern neonatology and construction and standard of care in a kumaragara is similar to that in an SCNU. There are a lot more principles to be adopted from Ayurveda for guiding future integrative medicine.
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