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WHO facility in India to have global traditional medicine database

Modi noted the rising demand for Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani formulations globally as many countries are relying on traditional medicine systems for dealing with the pandemic

Apr 20, 2022
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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (L) at the stone laying ceremony (Photo: Twitter)

A database of traditional medicines from every nation is among the key features of the World Health Organisation's Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tuesday, Modi said the database will help in properly documenting traditional medicines and act as a global repository.

The event was also attended by Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, 

This facility, 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 health, NDTV said. 

"The WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar aims to bring ancient wisdom and modern science together," Modi said. "India's traditional medicine system is not limited to treatment. It is a holistic science of life," he said.

"Ayurveda goes beyond just healing and treatment. Ayurveda also includes social health, mental health-happiness, environmental health, sympathy, compassion and productivity. Ayurveda is taken as the knowledge of life and it has been deemed as fifth Veda,"  Modi added. 

According to WHO, some 80 per cent of the world's population is estimated to use traditional medicine. To date, 170 of the 194 WHO member states have reported the use of traditional medicine, and their governments have asked for WHO's support in creating a body of reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products. The Gujarat facility would be of great help towards this goal.

Modi noted the rising demand for Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani formulations globally as many countries are relying on traditional medicine systems for dealing with the pandemic.

The term "traditional medicine" describes the total sum of the knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness. Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines, the WHO said.

"But today, national health systems and strategies do not yet fully integrate the millions of traditional medicine workers, accredited courses, health facilities, and health expenditures," the global health body said.

Some 40 per cent of approved pharmaceutical products in use today derive from natural substances, highlighting the vital importance of conserving biodiversity and sustainability.

For example, the WHO on its website says 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, the WHO said.

Modi also thanked the United Nations for accepting India's proposal on giving importance to millet, and the year 2023 will be celebrated as International Millet Year.

According to Mint, the reason for the choice of Jamnagar for the centre was because the world’s first ayurvedic university was established in Jamnagar more than five decades ago.  

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