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WHO holds moot on traditional medicines in India


Sun. 20 August 2023


NEW DELHI: The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a two-day Traditional Medicine Global Summit in India to underscore the value of evidence-based natural treatments as viable healthcare alternatives.

The event that coincides with a G20 health ministers' meeting in India, aims to explore the advantages of traditional medicines while underscoring the importance of scientific validation. Traditional medicines are gaining popularity on a global scale, and the summit has brought together policymakers and academics to garner support by presenting empirical evidence.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledges the potential of traditional medicines in addressing healthcare disparities. However, he emphasises the necessity for its appropriate and effective use, supported by contemporary scientific evidence.

WHO's Chief of Research, John Reeder, emphasises the significance of stringent scientific standards and advocates holistic approaches backed by robust evidence.

Dr Tedros commended India's rich heritage of traditional medicines during the inauguration of the summit in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. In his speech, he highlighted India's longstanding practices of Ayurveda and Yoga, showcasing their efficacy in pain management. He underscored the summit's importance in unlocking the potential of ancient healing practices and integrating them into modern healthcare systems. He urged nations globally to commit to incorporating traditional medicines into their respective national health systems.

The opening ceremony also recognised India's strides in achieving universal health coverage through the comprehensive Ayushman Bharat initiative.

Dr. Tedros' visit to a Health and Wellness Centre provided insights into the expansion of primary health services across the nation. He praised India's adoption of telemedicine, a practice extending healthcare access and providing cost-effective solutions.

He also highlighted the origins of various modern drugs in traditional medicine practices, citing examples such as willow bark and periwinkle, which have paved the way for aspirin and cancer medications.

India’s Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, who was present at the inaugural event, envisions the global summit as a platform to catalyze political commitment and evidence-based action in traditional medicine. He emphasizes the potential for a dialogue, exchange of ideas, collaboration, and international partnerships to advance the cause of traditional and complementary medicines.

Dr Mandaviya noted that traditional medicines witnessed high demand from industries such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, with practices incorporated by over 170 countries worldwide. The summit, he asserted, offers a prime opportunity for sharing insights and global collaboration to promote best practices.

Speaking about the WHO's Global Centre for Traditional Medicine headquartered in Jamnagar, Gujarat, Dr Mandaviya described it as a knowledge hub that merges ancient wisdom with modern science for the betterment of humanity and the planet. He stressed the lasting relevance of traditional healing practices, particularly in response to the contemporary demand for natural and herbal-based pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

The agenda of the two-day summit, themed "Towards Health and Well-being for All," encompasses comprehensive discussions and exchange of insights, exploring various facets of traditional medicine on a global scale. Topics span the necessity, impact, innovative approaches, and data pertaining to the utilisation of traditional medicinal systems.

As part of the summit, a specialised exhibition dedicated to traditional medicine will be inaugurated, spotlighting the global significance and diversity of traditional healing practices.

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