WHO to establish global center for traditional medicine in Gujarat, India

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The World Health Organization will establish a Global Center for Traditional Medicine to provide affordable health care solutions and research and reliable evidence that alternative healing is based on science, not fiction.

The facility will open in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat on April 21, officials said, adding that India would invest 224 million euros in the unique project.

It will aim to “harness the potential of traditional medicine worldwide through modern science and technology”, the WHO said.

The research center will also grant biological plausibility to indigenous practices and products that have often clashed with Western authorities due to suspicions of unsafe practices or untested research.

The WHO estimates that 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicines, including Ayurvedic botanicals, which were banned by the European Union ten years ago and earlier in Canada.

“For millions of people around the world, traditional medicine is the first port of call to treat many diseases,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“A commendable initiative,” added Modi, who created a special ministry to promote alternative health systems after taking office in 2014.

Doctors welcome the project

The Association of Ayurvedic Doctors of India said the one-stop-shop research for the first time in the world was a good sign.

“It’s really a good sign because it could have been opened anywhere in the world but the WHO chose India,” the association’s secretary, Jyoti Shankar Tripathi, told RFI.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has 400,000 traditional doctors on its lists, also hailed the WHO center but cautioned against the “mixing and matching” of various indigenous systems in the name of the research.

“If he can prove to the society that each of the systems will contribute individually, then acceptance will definitely come, but mixing the systems will not help,” IMA President JA Jayalal told RFI. .

Therapeutic bazaar

India has 788,000 registered practitioners of Yoga, Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Naturopathy as well as Unani which is popular among Muslims and the Siddha healing system used largely in parts of southern India. India.

Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, has the highest number of Ayurvedic doctors and is followed by the country’s wealthiest province, Maharashtra.

India also has 3,600 non-allopathic hospitals and 660 medical schools for traditional medicines, according to available records.

Alternative medicine degrees cost a fraction of the fees charged especially by Indian private medical schools.

High claims

The IMA estimates that 40% of India’s one million unqualified health care providers whom it calls “quacks” practice indigenous forms of medicine easily accessible to the poor.

In 2019, the UN estimated that 364 million of India’s 1.4 billion people lived in poverty.

The two pan-India doctors’ forums also claim that some of the 8,000 licensed local pharmacies selling branded Ayurvedic products are making exaggerated claims due to loopholes in the law.

“The government is excluding these companies from the rules on good manufacturing practice, but now should be requiring them to follow the standards,” said Tripathi, a 106-year-old professor at India’s Benaras Hindu University.

The demand came as a yoga guru running a consumer goods empire in India claimed a safe blood pressure treatment for diabetes with concoctions he produces.

In 2020, the guru ran into a storm of controversy when he tried to market coronavirus treatment products which he claimed had a 100% record in curing Covid-19 patients.

“Until and unless a system is put in place, it will not be possible to control this type of motivated people who will always find opportunities to promote themselves,” IMA’s Jayalal added.

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