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Monday, 1 September 2014

Health ministers from 11 countries to discuss Ayurveda

Call it a coincidence but within months of the BJP coming to power at the Centre, Ayurveda is set to make a sound at high places as health ministers from the World Health Organisation’s South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) will discuss how traditional medicine can be used for healthcare. 

India is the largest nation in this block. The ministers from the WHO’s SEARO region for the first time will deliberate on traditional medicine in a ministerial conference in Dhaka between September 9 and 12. The ministerial consultation will be followed by a global guideline to ensure quality, safety and efficacy.

“Traditional medicine is an important part of health care and mostcountries in the region have their own form of traditional medicines,” said a WHO official.

WHO SEARO comprises 11 nations — Bangladesh, Bhutan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste. India, being an Asian economic power house, takes a lead in the group on several counts.

The ministerial follows BJP-led NDA government creating an integrated department of Indian systems of medicine in six new All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhopal, Patna, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Rishikesh and Jodhpur.

India has also taken steps to establish a 100-bed hospital on Indian system of medicine – to be called centre of excellence in holistic medicine – and land for medicinal herb cultivation facility for standardised production of medicines. An expert panel has been constituted to recommend a blueprint for the operationalisation of a yoga training and therapy centre at AIIMS Rishikesh.

WHO officials claimed that the thrust on traditional medicine was in accordance with the health agency’s new (2014-23) strategy on traditional medicine to harness its potential contribution to health and universal health coverage.

Even though several WHO technical committees and advisory bodies underscored the importance of the ancient wisdom on healthcare, this is for the first time the ministers would decide how the traditional knowledge can be integrated to the national healthcare delivery system.

WHO director general Margaret Chan and regional head Poonam Khetrapal Singh will be present at the Dhaka meeting that would also seek to prevent harmful use of alcohol, strengthening surgical care and curb the growing threat of viral hepatitis that kill 5 lakh people every year in the region.

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