WHO’s first-ever global Summit on Traditional Medicine

Aug 18: “The Global Summit for Traditional Medicine serves as a beacon of hope, promoting a holistic approach to health and well-being. By embracing ancient wisdom and modern science, we can collectively work towards achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals while fostering a ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ ethos.” This was stated by Dr Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, in the presence of Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ayush, Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, as he inaugurated the WHO’s first-ever Global Summit for Traditional Medicine. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Ayush, the summit is a Co-branded event as part of the ongoing G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 17th to 19th August. The inauguration event was also attended by Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State for Ayush, Shri Rushikesh Patel, Gujarat Health Minister, Ms Lonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan, and Ms Vivian T. Camacho Hinojosa, National Director of Ancestral Traditional Medicine, Bolivia.

 The two-day summit, from 17th to 18th August, with the theme “Towards Health and Well-being for All”, will explore the role of traditional complementary and integrative medicine in addressing pressing health challenges and driving progress in global health and sustainable development.

On the occasion of the first-ever Global Summit on Traditional Medicine, Dr Mandaviya said, “This Global Summit presents a unique platform for dialogue, idea exchange, collaboration, and international partnerships in the realm of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. For centuries, traditional and complementary medicine has played a pivotal role in promoting personal and community health. Even in modern times, the demand for natural and herbal-based pharmaceuticals and cosmetics underscores the enduring significance of traditional healing practices.”

Welcoming the delegates, and ministers to Gujarat, Dr. Mandaviya said, “Gandhinagar, a city bearing the name of Mahatma Gandhi, the revered Father of the Nation, serves as a fitting backdrop for this prestigious summit. Gujarat, a land, rich in history and culture, is also the birthplace of legends such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the Ironman of India. His indomitable spirit and commitment to national integration in the wake of independence have left an indelible mark on our country.”

On the WHO’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicine headquartered in Jamnagar, Gujarat, Dr Mandaviya said, “This centre serves as a knowledge hub, synergizing ancient wisdom with modern science for the betterment of people and the planet. By supplementing WHO’s core functions, the centre accelerates the advancement of traditional medicine globally.”

Shri Sarbanand Sonowal, at the inaugural event, said, “The first-ever Global Summit for Traditional Medicine holds immense significance as it goes beyond borders, unites minds for the future of healthcare, and signifies the dawn of a new era in healthcare globally.” He stressed that the summit will help identify potential areas for collaboration and innovation in traditional medicines, and help harness traditional medicine in achieving Universal Health Coverage goals.

On the ties of Traditional Medicine to local communities, Shri Sonowal said, “Traditional Medicine can play a huge role in honouring cultural diversity, empowering communities, and celebrating our shared heritage, while at the same time improving health and well-being globally.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the inaugural event, acknowledged the efforts of India to enhance Universal Health Coverage under the umbrella scheme of Ayushman Bharat. His visit to a Health and Wellness Centre a day prior helped him witness the extension of primary health services in the country. He also highlighted India’s adoption of telemedicine, which not only expands health service delivery, but also helps save time, and money for patients.

Dr. Ghebreyesus stressed on the link between traditional medicines, and the environment, and said, “Traditional Medicine is as old as humanity itself, people in all nations have used traditional healing practices at some point in their lives.” He highlighted how the sources of many modern drugs can be traced to the use of traditional medicine methods by communities like willow bark, and periwinkle which forms the basis for aspirin, and cancer drugs.

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