Simone Hunziker, a Swiss exponent of the Indian traditional medicine system Ayurveda, has been recognised in India for her work in promoting the discipline overseas.
The 54-year-old doctor, who is currently based in South India, received the Pandit Shiv Sharma Oration award from the Indian Association for the Study of Traditional Asian Medicine in the Indian city of Varanasi on February 18. She is the first woman and first non-Indian to be conferred the honour.
“I am happy to receive an award named after one of the most important promoters of Ayurveda in modern times,” Hunziker told swissinfo.ch.
She helped create and launch the first global online research databaseexternal link for Ayurveda in collaboration with the Indian government. As the president of the Swiss professional association for Ayurvedic practitioners and therapists (ASMTA) from 2009 to 2014 she lobbied to get Ayurveda recognised by the Swiss government as a profession.
In 2015, Switzerland became the first European country to offer two federally recognised diplomas in Ayurveda – one as naturopathy and the other as a complementary therapy. The cost of Ayurveda treatments can be reimbursed if patients take a supplementary health insurance package for complementary and alternative health treatments.
“Switzerland has created a model for the globalisation of Ayurveda,” says Hunziker. “It is an example of how Ayurveda can be integrated into the health system through high quality standards.”
She is currently developing a training programme in India for overseas students interested in becoming Ayurveda practitioners.