April 13, 2024

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The First WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit

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The First WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit took place on 17 and 18 August 2023 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India. It was held alongside the G20 health ministerial meeting, to mobilize political commitment and evidence-based action on traditional medicine, which is a first port of call for millions of people worldwide to address their health and well-being needs.

The Global Summit was co-hosted by WHO and the Government of India, which held the presidency of the G20 in 2023. It was a platform for all stakeholders, including traditional medicine workers, users and communities, national policymakers, international organizations, academics, private sector and civil society organizations, to share best practices and game-changing evidence, data and innovation on the contribution of traditional medicine to health and sustainable development.

For centuries, traditional and complementary medicine has been an integral resource for health in households and communities. It has been at the frontiers of medicine and science laying the foundation for conventional medical texts. Around 40% of pharmaceutical products today have a natural product basis, and landmark drugs derive from traditional medicine, including aspirin, artemisinin, and childhood cancer treatments. New research, including on genomics and artificial intelligence are entering the field, and there are growing industries for herbal medicines, natural products, health, wellness and related travel. Currently, 170 Member States reported to WHO on the use of traditional medicine and have requested evidence and data to inform policies, standards and regulation for its safe, cost-effective and equitable use. 

In response to this increased global interest and demand, WHO, with the support of the Government of India, established in March 2022 the WHO Global Traditional Medicine Centre as a knowledge hub with a mission to catalyse ancient wisdom and modern science for the health and well-being of people and the planet. The WHO Traditional Medicine Centre scales up WHO’s existing capacity in traditional medicine and supplements the core WHO functions of governance, norms and country support carried out across the six regional Offices and Headquarters.

The Centre focuses on partnership, evidence, data, biodiversity and innovation to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to global health, universal health coverage, and sustainable development, and is also guided by respect for local heritages, resources and rights.

A cross-regional expert panel advised on the Summit’s theme, format, topics and issues to address. All updates have been posted here and on the forthcoming webpages for the First WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit.

 

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