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WHO chief mentions Global Traditional Medicine Centre in India while recalling achievements in 2023

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the year 2023 was a productive one in boosting access to medicines and other health products. India and the WHO established the world's first Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in 2022 and convened the first global summit on traditional medicine.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Geneva Published on: May 28, 2024 11:08 IST
UN, WHO, India
Image Source : REUTERS WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressing the World Health Assembly at the United Nations.

Geneva: World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday lauded India's Global Traditional Medicine Centre and the first global summit on traditional medicine hosted by New Delhi to underline that the year 2023 was a productive period in the UN agency's work to support access to medicines and other health products. India and the UN health agency signed an agreement in 2022 to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine.

"We also established the Global Traditional Medicine Centre in India, and hosted the first global summit on traditional medicine," Ghebreyesus said in his remarks as he presented his report to the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine, supported by an investment of $250 million from 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.

"With WHO leadership, opportunities for technology transfer and geographically diversified manufacturing continue to expand. 15 partners joined the mRNA Technology Transfer Programme, and with WHO support, have started expanding the technology pipeline to include new vaccines of regional and global interest," said Ghebreyesus. He also voiced confidence that countries would reach a deal on a COVID-19 pandemic accord after failing to produce an agreement last week, even though health officials warned it could take years.

India-WHO initiatives in traditional medicine

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said the agreement between the Ministry of Ayush and WHO to establish the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) - the world's first - at Jamnagar, Gujarat, is a commendable initiative. He laid the foundation stone of WHO-GCTM in Jamnagar in April 2022. 

"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 PM said at the occasion.

WHO had convened the Traditional Medicine Global Summit in August last year in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The summit was co-hosted by India, which held the G20 presidency in 2023. Held alongside the G20 Health Ministerial meeting, the summit explored the role of traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine in addressing pressing health challenges and driving progress in global health and sustainable development.

WHO chief praised India for 'rich history'

Ghebreyesus, who came to Gujarat to attend the global summit and is affectionately called 'Tulsi bhai' by PM Modi, praised India for its "rich history" of traditional medicine like Ayurveda and yoga. He also stressed for the need to integrate this ancient medicinal knowledge into the national health system of countries.

"India has a rich history of traditional medicine through Ayurveda, including yoga, which has been shown to be effective in alleviating pain. The Gujarat Declaration, the main outcome of this summit, will focus on integration of traditional medicines in national health systems, and help unlock the power of traditional medicine through science," the WHO chief had said.

In his address to the World Health Assembly, Ghebreyesus said, "We prequalified 120 medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and other products last year for HIV, malaria, multidrug-resistant TB, Ebola, polio and COVID-19, as well as the first long-acting insulin analogues." He noted that one of the biggest disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was to routine immunization programmes in many countries, resulting in backsliding coverage and outbreaks of measles, diphtheria, polio, yellow fever and more.

"This year, most of the 20 countries with the most children who missed out completely on vaccines during the pandemic are launching and implementing their plans to reach those children," he added. The WHO chief estimated that a million people will be better protected from health emergencies by 2025, three-quarters of the way to the agency's target of 1 billion.

(with inputs from agencies)

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