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Traditional Indian Medicine Goes Global


The global dissemination of Traditional Indian Medicine is currently experiencing a significant transformation under the leadership of the Ministry of Ayush, marking a pivotal shift in merging ancient wisdom with contemporary healthcare practices. Ayush, emphasizing the body’s innate healing capabilities and the equilibrium of mind, body, and consciousness, seeks to bridge the gap between ancient healing traditions and modern medical approaches.



  • Health
  • Issues Arising Out of Design and Implementation of Policies
  • Management of Social Sector/Services

Mains Question:

With reference to the recently established Global Centre of Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, analyse the necessity of bridging the gap between ancient healing traditions and modern medical approaches. How successful have the Ministry of Ayush’s efforts been in this regard? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Traditional Medicine Systems:

  • As per the World Health Organization (WHO), traditional medicine refers to the cumulative knowledge, skills, and practices employed by diverse cultures over time to preserve health and address physical and mental illnesses through prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Its scope encompasses both ancient methods like acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine, and herbal remedies, as well as contemporary medicinal approaches.
  • In the context of India, traditional medicine is often described to include practices and therapies such as yoga, Ayurveda, and Siddha.
  • These therapies, deeply rooted in Indian tradition, also incorporate practices like homeopathy that have become integral to the Indian healthcare tradition over the years.
  • Ayurveda and yoga enjoy widespread practice throughout the country, while the Siddha system is predominantly followed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • Furthermore, the Sowa-Rigpa system finds application primarily in Leh-Ladakh and Himalayan regions such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul & Spiti.
  • Throughout history, India has been a custodian of diverse Traditional Medicine Systems with practitioners passing down holistic healthcare values across generations.
  • In the era of globalization, the need for universally recognized and evidence-based medical systems has become imperative to cater to a global population with consistent medical practices.

Recent Developments in this Context:

  • The Ministry of Ayush has established a robust framework to address this, exemplified by the recent inauguration of the Global Centre of Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, by the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • This signifies a landmark in the global acceptance of traditional medicine, reflecting a paradigm shift in international healthcare towards recognizing the potential benefits of Traditional Medicine (TM).
  • GCTM serves as a global knowledge hub for traditional medicine, representing the initial and sole international outpost center dedicated to traditional medicine worldwide.
  • Situated in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India, the WHO GCTM has received substantial support from India, its primary investor, with an estimated investment of around US$ 250 million dedicated to establishing, developing infrastructure, and facilitating operations of the Centre.
  • The primary objectives behind establishing GCTM include:

Integration with Technological Advancements:

The Centre aims to unlock the potential of traditional medicine by combining it with technological advancements and evidence-based research.

Setting Policies and Standards:

GCTM seeks to establish policies and standards related to traditional medicine products, aiding countries in creating a comprehensive, safe, and high-quality healthcare system.

Supporting WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy:

GCTM is committed to supporting the implementation of the WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-23). It strives to assist nations in formulating policies and action plans to enhance the role of traditional medicine, aligning with the universal health coverage goal.

Focus on Four Main Strategic Areas:

The Centre concentrates its efforts on four key strategic domains: Evidence and learning, Data and analytics, Sustainability and equity, and Innovation and technology. These areas are pivotal in optimizing the contribution of traditional medicine to global health.

  • It is noteworthy that, as per WHO estimates, a significant 80% of the world’s population utilizes traditional medicine.
  • In a new wave of international medical revolution, the Ministry of Ayush aims to integrate terminologies related to various diseases in Ayush healthcare, Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani into the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11.
  • The ICD, a crucial instrument for member countries like India, facilitates the collection of data on various diseases and mortality statistics.
  • Previously, data primarily focused on biomedical conditions, excluding information from Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems.
  • The inclusion of Ayush within the ICD will enable international standardization, allowing for measurement, comparison, and monitoring over time.
  • India is committed to implementing the ICD 11 TM2 module for collecting morbidity statistics, which will have implications for public healthcare, Ayush insurance coverage, research and development, policymaking, and future disease prevention strategies.
  • Infectious diseases like Malaria and lifestyle diseases such as Chronic Insomnia will be classified under this system.
  • Diseases like Giddiness disorder in Ayurveda, Azal Kirukiruppu in Siddha, and Sadr-O-Duwar in Unani will be released as glossary codes by WHO through ICD11.

Significance of the Above Move:

  • The incorporation of TM2 into ICD-11 encourages rigorous scientific evaluation of traditional practices, fostering robust research on Traditional Medicine modalities.
  • This inclusion facilitates cross-cultural collaboration, promoting a more comprehensive understanding of health and disease.
  • It opens avenues for innovative and inclusive healthcare solutions, expanding access to healthcare and encouraging cost-effective interventions.
  • The effort to standardize Ayurveda-Unani-Siddha terminologies led to the creation of the National Ayush Morbidity and Standardized Terminologies Electronic (NAMASTE) Portal in 2017, providing a platform for testing and validating traditional diagnoses.


The Donor Agreement between the Ministry of Ayush and WHO in 2020 marked a significant breakthrough, intensifying the global reach of traditional medicine. This momentum has prompted other WHO member countries to consider adopting a similar format for including Traditional Medicine diseases in the ICD, reflecting a growing demand for a holistic approach to patient care. Every nation should dedicate themselves to exploring optimal methods for incorporating traditional and complementary medicine into their domestic healthcare systems to harness the true potential of traditional medicine.

February 2024