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WHO establishes Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India

Maximising potential of traditional medicines through modern science and technology

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The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India yesterday signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine, supported by an investment of $250 million from the Government of India, aims to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet, WHO said in a statement.

The new WHO centre will be established in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India. While Jamnagar will serve as the hub, the new centre is being designed to engage and benefit all regions of the world. It will concentrate on building a solid evidence base for policies and standards on traditional medicine practices and products and help countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems and regulate its quality and safety for optimal and sustainable impact, the statement said.

It added that the new centre focusses on four main strategic areas: evidence and learning; data and analytics; sustainability and equity; and innovation and technology to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health and sustainable development.

The onsite launch of the new WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India will take place on 21st April, 2022, noted the statement.

“For many millions of people around the world, traditional medicine is the first port of call to treat many diseases. Ensuring all people have access to safe and effective treatment is an essential part of WHO’s mission, and this new centre will help to harness the power of science to strengthen the evidence base for traditional medicine. I’m grateful to the Government of India for its support, and we look forward to making it a success,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, in the statement.

Around 80 per cent of the world’s population is estimated to use traditional medicine. To date, 170 of the 194 WHO member states have reported the use of traditional medicine, and their governments have asked for WHO’s support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products, it further said.

“It is heartening to learn about the signing of the Host Country Agreement for the establishment of Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM). The agreement between the Ministry of AYUSH and the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish the WHO-GCTM at Jamnagar, Gujarat, is a commendable initiative,” said Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India.

Some 40 per cent of approved pharma products in use today derive from natural substances, highlighting the vital importance of conserving biodiversity and sustainability. For example, the discovery of aspirin drew on traditional medicine formulations using the bark of the willow tree, the contraceptive pill was developed from the roots of wild yam plants and child cancer treatments have been based on the rosy periwinkle. Nobel-prize winning research on artemisinin for malaria control started with a review of ancient Chinese medicine texts, according to the statement.

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