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Approach:

  1. Introduction.
  2. Define Global Centre for Traditional Medicines.
  3. Define Role of GCTM.
  4. State the reasons for research in traditional medicines.
  5. Conclusion.

WHO describes traditional medicine as the sum total of the ‘knowledge, skills and practices that indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and diagnose and treat physical and mental illness’. It encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures, among others.

Global Centre for Traditional Medicine : The Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (WHO GCTM) has been set up by the Ministry of Ayush and the WHO. The Union Cabinet recently approved its establishment in Jamnagar with the signing of a host country agreement between the Government of India and the WHO. India has committed an estimated $250 million to support the GCTM’s establishment, infrastructure and operations.

Role of Global Centre for Traditional Medicine : It will aim to focus on evidence-based research, innovation, and data analysis to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to global health. Its main focus will be to develop norms, standards and guidelines in technical areas relating to traditional medicine. This will help countries create a comprehensive, safe, and high-quality health system. The GCTM will support efforts to implement the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23). The strategy aims to support nations in developing policies & action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine in pursuing the goal of universal health coverage.

Need for more research in traditional medicine ? :

  • The WHO says 170 of its 194 Member States have reported the use of traditional medicine. These member states have asked for support in creating a body of “reliable evidence and data on traditional medicine practices and products”.
  • The WHO has stressed the need to conserve biodiversity and sustainability, as about 40% of approved pharmaceutical products today are derived from natural substances. For example, the discovery of aspirin drew on traditional medicine formulations using the bark of the willow tree.
  • WHO has acknowledged the growing modernisation of the ways to study traditional medicine. Artificial intelligence is now used to map evidence and trends in traditional medicine.
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging is used to study brain activity and the relaxation response. This is also part of some traditional medicine therapies such as meditation and yoga.
  • Other Benefits: (a) It is generally cheap and affordable. AYUSH medicines have lesser side effects than modern medicine; (b) It is effective in lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension; (c) It is used to provide healthcare in rural hinterlands where there is a shortage of allopathic doctors; (d) Many AYUSH medicines like AYUSH 64, Kabasura Kudineer, etc. were used in tackling the Covid 19 pandemic.

India is a pioneer in the field of traditional medicine since time immemorial. The establishment of the GCTM is an effort to bring synergy and cooperation in the domain of traditional medicine. The GCTM will serve as a hub for other countries, and build standards on traditional medicine practices and products.

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