The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of AYUSH, of the Government of India have joined hands in a significant move to propel traditional medicine, complementary medicine, and integrative medicine (TCI) into the forefront of global health. This collaboration which is marked by the signing of a significant multi-million five-year agreement as announced during a ceremony held at the Permanent Mission of India in Geneva. It seeks to propel the development of TCI technical documents by the WHO.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, who serves as the Assistant Director-General of the Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Division at WHO, emphasized the significant role this partnership will play. He highlighted its importance not only in promoting evidence-informed traditional practices on a global scale but also in integrating proven TCI methods into national health systems. The overarching goal is to strive towards achieving universal health coverage and promoting general well-being through these collaborative initiatives.
During the inking of the agreement, His Excellency Shri Indra Mani Pandey who is the Permanent Representative of India to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva highlighted the significance of this milestone. He stressed that this collaboration does not only supports the development of the TCI Global Strategy but also facilitates the integration of evidence-based Traditional and Complementary Medicine into national and international health systems. It also aims to address biodiversity conservation and ensure the sustainability of medicinal plants. This highlights India’s constant commitment to strengthening global Traditional Medicine Systems.
India’s strong support for the WHO Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine unit has been instrumental in developing key benchmark documents and standardized terminologies. The signing of this new agreement, which is the third in a series of such collaborations, signifies India’s dedication to both technical collaboration and financial investment in this crucial area of work in partnership with the WHO.
In Gujarat, India, the establishment of the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in August 2023 marked a significant milestone. The inaugural traditional medicine global summit led to the formulation of the Gujarat Declaration. This declaration serves as a foundational step towards nurturing collaborative efforts aimed at integrating traditional medicine into national health systems.
Under the purview of this new agreement, the Government of India will further extend its support to the WHO. This includes supporting in the development of benchmarks for training and practice in Siddha, the modules focusing on the quality and safety of herbal medicines, and the international herbal pharmacopoeia. These initiatives, which are scheduled to unfold over the next five years aims to propel the advancement and integration of traditional medicine practices on a global scale.
The System of Traditional Medicines
The traditional medicine system has many diverse practices, beliefs, and knowledge passed down through generations. These systems which are rooted in cultural contexts, include Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and indigenous healing methods worldwide. They integrate herbal remedies, manual therapies, and spiritual approaches to prevent and treat illnesses. These systems prioritize holistic well-being that aims to harmonize mind, body, and spirit. Focusing on personalized care and natural remedies, they often coexist with modern medicine, offering alternative or complementary approaches to healthcare. Their lasting relevance lies in addressing health disparities, promoting wellness, and preserving invaluable cultural heritage across communities globally.
What is the Basic Principle Involved in the Traditional System of Medicine?
Traditional systems of medicine revolve around fundamental principles rooted in holistic approaches to health. These systems, like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, focus on balance and harmony within the body, viewing health as a balance between mind, body, and spirit. Principles such as identifying and treating the root cause of ailments rather than just symptoms, individualized care based on unique constitutions or patterns, and using natural remedies derived from herbs, plants, or minerals form the cornerstone. Traditional medicine systems prioritize prevention through lifestyle modifications, diet, and practices made to each person’s needs, aiming to restore equilibrium and promote overall well-being.
What are the 4 Traditional Systems of Medicine?
Traditional medicine includes various ancient healing practices, with four prominent systems globally recognized: Ayurveda from India, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Unani Medicine, and Indigenous or Folk Medicine. Ayurveda focuses a balance between body, mind, and spirit, using herbal remedies, diet, and yogic practices. TCM employs acupuncture, herbal medicine, and mind-body interventions to restore harmony. Unani Medicine, originating from Greece, utilizes natural substances and emphasizes the body’s balance of elements. Indigenous or Folk Medicine relies on local knowledge and practices passed down generations, often incorporating plants and rituals. These systems offer diverse approaches to health and well-being, reflecting rich cultural heritage and holistic philosophies.
What are the Benefits of Traditional Systems of Medicine?
Traditional systems of medicine offer diverse range of benefits which are rooted in century old practices. They provide holistic care, considering the mind, body, and spirit, promoting overall well-being. These systems focus on natural remedies, including herbs, plants, and lifestyle adjustments, minimizing side effects often associated with modern medicine. They also focus on preventive care which aims to promote the body’s natural defenses. Traditional medicine promotes individualized treatments, recognizing the uniqueness of patients’ constitutions and conditions. These practices often complement modern healthcare, offering alternatives and expanding treatment options. Their cultural significance and accessibility to remote or underprivileged communities further highlight their importance in global healthcare systems.
WHO’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India have signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Supported by a $250 million investment from India, the center aims to leverage traditional medicine’s potential worldwide by merging ancient practices with modern science. Around 80% of the global population uses traditional medicine, prompting 170 WHO Member States to seek support for reliable evidence. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, emphasized the importance of safe and effective treatment, praising India’s support. Traditional medicine, encompassing ancient practices like acupuncture and ayurvedic medicine which coexists with modern healthcare systems, yet faces integration challenges. The new centre, focusing on evidence, data, sustainability, and innovation, aims to integrate traditional medicine into global health systems and enhance its impact. The center aspires to optimize traditional medicine’s role in global health and sustainable development.