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How WHO's proposed global centre for traditional medicines is a shot in the arm for India's AYUSH ministry

The centre is expected to aid WHO's efforts to bring global harmonisation of practice, setting quality and safety standards, enabling the growth of Indian traditional medicines, which have been in use for hundreds and thousands of years.
Nov 15, 2020 / 02:12 PM IST

The World Health Organisation (WHO) this past week announced setting up the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India to strengthen the evidence, research, training and awareness of traditional medicines.

The WHO's centre is expected to aid its efforts to bring global harmonisation of practice, setting quality and safety standards, enabling the growth of Indian traditional medicines, which have been in use for hundreds and thousands of years.

The announcement was made by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a video message at an event in which PM Modi inaugurated two future-ready Ayurveda institutions in Jaipur and Jamnagar.

What will this Centre do

"This new centre supports WHO's effort to implement WHO traditional medicines strategy 2014-2023, which aims to support countries in developing policies and action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicines, as part of their journey, to universal health coverage, and healthier, safer and fairer world," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Why is it significant

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India has officially recognised six traditional systems of medicine such as Ayurveda, Yoga-Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), and created a separate Ministry called AYUSH to regulate, set standards and promote research and use . India also institutionalised education system for traditional medicines, with over 400 colleges with an annual admission capacity of 25000 undergraduate students, some of them offer post graduate degrees with an intake of over 4,500 students.

According to WHO, India has 785 185 registered AYUSH practitioners and an estimated one million village-based, traditional AYUSH community health workers.

While AYUSH medicines and practices are now been used globally, but lack of harmonisation in terms of practices, quality and safety standards is becoming counter-productive to its growth and is becoming prone to quakery.

The WHO's centre would be working on creating global guidelines on quality and safety of herbal medicines; develop of a series of benchmarks for practice, and bringing common global terminology.

WHO traditional medicines strategy 2014-2023, which is in continuation to updating and enhancing the strategy has allowed it to acquire a better understanding of how to boost the global integration of T&CM into health systems.

India did played a major role in these efforts. In February 2013, regional member countries adopted the Delhi Declaration on Traditional Medicine, which has 9 items for cooperation, collaboration and mutual support.

They include promoting national policies and strategies for equitable development and appropriate use of tradional medicine, pursuing a harmonized approach to education, practice, research, documentation and regulation, exploring the possibility of promoting mutual recognition of educational qualifications, pharmacopoeias and monographs, expanding common reference documents, encouraging sustainable development and resource augmentation of medicinal plants, and exchanging perspectives, experiences and experts in order to integrate traditional medicine into national health systems

That became basis for the WHO traditional medicines strategy 2014-2023.
Viswanath Pilla Viswanath Pilla is a business journalist with 14 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, Pilla covers pharma, healthcare and infrastructure sectors for Moneycontrol.
first published: Nov 15, 2020 02:12 pm

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