WHO Establishes the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat on April 19.
Groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Kumar Jugnauth and Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO).
The Ministry of Ayush and the World Health Organization (WHO) have signed an agreement to establish the world’s first and only Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine, supported by an investment of USD 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. The GCTM will cover 35 acres of land for a new building and premises in 2024, an interim office, and support for the GCTM operational costs with a 10-year commitment. According to the WHO, the Prime Minister and Government of India are supporting the establishment of the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kudumbakam: the world is one family.
Speaking on this occasion the Prime Minister said, “The WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine is recognition of India’s contribution and potential in this field. India’s traditional medicine system is not limited only to treatment. It is a holistic science of life. India takes this partnership as a huge responsibility for serving the entire humanity.”
The Prime Minister also mentioned that the world is looking for a new dimension of health care delivery today. “I am happy that by giving the slogan ‘One planet our health’ WHO has promoted the Indian vision of ‘One Earth, One Health’. It is a matter of immense pride for India that 2023 has been chosen as the International Year of Millets by the United Nation.” He added.
The ceremony was attended by Chief Minister of Gujarat Bhupendra Patel, Union Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Chemicals and Fertilizers, Dr. Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State, Ministry of Ayush, and other senior officials of Ministry of Ayush and Government of Gujarat.
WHO global center of traditional medicine is a major milestone for entire South East Asian Countries. This was acknowledged by Prime Ministers of Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan through recorded video messages telecasted at the ceremony.
On this occasion, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “Traditional medicines products abound globally and the centre will go a long way in bringing the promise of the traditional medicine to fruition. The New Centre will focus on data, innovation and sustainability and will optimize the use of traditional medicine. He noted that the WHO global center for traditional medicine is a truly global project. Through this center India will be able to take its knowledge of traditional medicine to the world and similarly the world will come to India. He thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his support in establishing this center in India.
Addressing the audience, Union Minister of Ayush Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, said, “India has been proven pioneers in the field of traditional medicine since time immemorial. The knowledge sharing and cooperation has been documented in history and in continuation of the same, focused efforts have been relentlessly undertaken by the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. The establishment of the Global Centre is an effort to bring synergy and cooperation in this domain would benefit all the member states.”
The Ayush Minister added that, the Ministry of Ayush, profoundly thanks Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi for his outstanding initiative and continuous guidance for making WHO Global Centre of Traditional Medicine a reality in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendra Patel said, “Under the guidance of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the knowledge of Yoga, Ayurveda and other traditional medicines is being shared with the world and it has become useful for the overall health and well being of global citizens. The sanskrit sutra of ‘Bahujan Hitay, Bahujan Sukhay’, that is “Well being of all” will be fulfilled with this holistic way of treatment”
The primary objective of WHO GCTM is to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology and improve overall health of the communities’ world over. The Centre will highlight the potential of traditional medicine and utilize technological advancements to promote its safe and effective use.
Traditional medicine is a key pillar of health care delivery systems and plays a crucial role in maintaining good health and well-being not only in India but across the world. In recent years, traditional medicine therapies have also seen a major transformation as usage of artificial intelligence, technological innovations have made it more accessible to the masses. GCTM will aim to integrate the benefits of traditional medicine with the achievements of modern science and create a comprehensive health strategy.
The Who has estimated that around 80% of the world’s population use traditional medicine, such as herbal medicines, acupuncture, yoga, indigenous therapies and others. One hundred seventy Member States report the use of traditional medicine, and their priority request to WHO is for evidence and data to inform policies, standards and regulatory frameworks for safe, cost-effective and equitable use. Traditional medicine has been an integral resource for health for centuries in communities around the world, and it is still a mainstay for some with inequities in access to conventional medicine. The sociocultural practice and biodiversity heritages of traditional medicine are invaluable resources to evolve inclusive, diverse sustainable development.
Traditional medicine is also part of the growing trillion-dollar global health, wellness, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries. Over 40% of pharmaceutical formulations are based on natural products and substances. and landmark drugs, including aspirin and artemisinin, originated from traditional medicine.
The contribution of traditional medicine to national health systems is not yet fully realized, as millions of accredited traditional medicine workers, facilities, expenditures and products are not fully accounted for. Augmenting WHO’s capacities to address these knowledge needs will be a main objective of WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM).
Traditional medicine is also increasingly prominent in the world of modern science. As pointed above, 40 percent of approved pharmaceutical 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.
There has been a rapid modernization of the ways traditional medicine is being studied. Artificial intelligence is now used to map evidence and trends in traditional medicine and to screen natural products for pharmacokinetic properties. Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity and the relaxation response that is part of some traditional medicine therapies such as meditation and yoga, which are increasingly drawn on for mental health and wellbeing in stressful times.
In addition, traditional medicine use has also been updated by mobile phone apps, online classes, and other technologies. The GCTM promises to maximize potential of traditional medicines through modern science and technology.