The World Health Organisation launched its first summit on traditional medicine, stating that it hoped to gather evidence and data to enable for the safe use of such treatments.
WHO launched its first summit
Traditional medicines are a “first port of call for millions of people worldwide”, the UN health agency said, with the talks in India bringing together policymakers and academics aiming to “mobilise political commitment and evidence-based action” towards them.
“WHO is working to build the evidence and data to inform policies, standards and regulations for the safe, cost-effective and equitable use of traditional medicine”, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he opened the summit.
Traditional medicine could help close “access gaps” in healthcare, but only if used “appropriately, effectively, and, most importantly, safely based on the most recent scientific evidence,” Tedros said earlier.
However, the World Health Organisation has come under fire from online critics for lending scientific support to pseudoscience
After asking followers in a post if they have utilised a variety of treatments, including homoeopathy and naturopathy.
Later, in a post on the social networking platform X, the WHO stated that it had heard the “concerns” and recognised that its “message could have been better articulated.”
The two-day WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit is taking place in Gandhinagar, India, with a meeting of G20 health ministers.
“We need to face a very important real-life fact that traditional medicines are very widely used,” Nobel laureate and chair of the WHO Science Council Harold Varmus told the summit via video link.
“It is important to understand what ingredients are actually in traditional medicines, why they work in some cases… and importantly, we need to understand and identify which traditional medicines don’t work”.
The conference, which is expected to become a yearly event, comes on the heels of the establishment of a WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India’s Gujarat state last year.
Traditional remedies are widely utilised in several parts of the world, yet they are also heavily criticised.
Traditional medicine is defined by the United Nations as “the knowledge, skills, and practises used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose, and treat physical and mental illness.”
However, many traditional remedies have no established scientific value, and conservationists believe the market fuels a rampant trade in endangered animals such as tigers, rhinos, and pangolins, endangering entire species.
Traditional Chinese medicine has a long history in China, but leading European medical organisations have already urged that it be subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as Western medical treatments.
“Advancing science in traditional medicine should be held to the same rigorous standards as other fields of health,” said WHO research chief John Reeder in a statement.
Since 2018, 170 of the WHO’s 194 member states have admitted their use of traditional and complementary medicine
But only 124 have reported having laws or regulations governing the use of herbal medicines and only half have a national policy governing such procedures and medications.
To read our blog on “WHO states warning regarding poisonous Indian cough syrup,” click here