Gandhinagar, 18 August 2023 (TDI): The inaugural first-ever WHO Global Summit on Traditional Medicine was co-hosted by the Government of India during its G20 presidency on 17-18 August 2023.

It reassessed the vast potential and applications of traditional medicine, taking into account significant challenges and opportunities in achieving universal health coverage and well-being for both people and the planet.

The Summit aimed to catalyze political commitment and collaborative efforts towards the evidence-based integration of traditional medicine, enhancing the health and well-being of individuals and the planet.

This focus encompassed a range of critical topics relevant to traditional medicine, including research, evidence, education, policy, data, regulation, clinical practice, innovation, digital health, biodiversity, conservation, and equitable benefit-sharing.

Core Themes of Summit Agenda

The program and agenda were strategically organized around core themes including evidence and learning, data and regulation, biodiversity, innovation and digital health.

A significant challenge to enabling access to safe and quality traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) services is the lack of comprehensive scientific knowledge regarding the safety and efficacy of T&CM practices and products.

To address this, a stronger evidence base is required, empowering countries to formulate appropriate mechanisms and policy guidance for the regulation, quality control, and monitoring of T&CM practices, practitioners, and products.

At the Summit, WHO and partners presented evidence maps on T&CM clinical effectiveness, research methods, epistemology, and the application of AI for evidence generation.

Effective integration of T&CM into health systems requires overcoming barriers such as inadequate policies, regulations, financing, and information about the utility, safety, and resources of T&CM.

Additionally, there is a lack of a standardized framework for training the T&CM workforce. This theme of the Summit aimed to address these obstacles by focusing on several key areas.

These areas include country data and global evidence, policy and regulatory landscapes, data and routine information systems, workforce development through education and regulation, and integrative health for well-being across all age groups.

Also Read: WHO Celebrates World Health Day

Furthermore, the rapid modernization of traditional medicine study, spurred by AI, has profoundly transformed traditional healing systems.

Advanced algorithms and machine learning capabilities within AI allow researchers to uncover extensive traditional medical knowledge, identifying evidence and patterns that were once elusive.

The Summit’s emphasis on advancing traditional medicine knowledge through forward-looking research agendas has substantial implications for global health. Responsible and equitable use of these technologies is crucial, encompassing ethical considerations and strengthening digital infrastructure.

The conservation of biodiversity is integral to the sustainable use of T&CM. The Summit served as a platform for sharing best practices related to biodiversity and traditional knowledge conservation and sustainable use.

It fostered the exchange of knowledge and experiences in utilizing traditional and ancestral medicine, supporting community health through intercultural dialogues.

Moreover, the Summit addressed equitable benefit-sharing practices among countries, including intellectual property rights.

Throughout the Summit, a joint dialogue with G20 ministers spotlighted the contributions of Indigenous knowledge and traditional medicine to societal and economic well-being.

Also Read: Landmark exhibition on traditional Chinese medicine in Sydney

An Expert Advisory Panel, comprising members from various WHO regions, guided the Summit’s content and structure.

The European Region has 60,000 mostly private traditional/alternative medicine practitioners. Yet there remains a general lack of evidence on Traditional Medicine’s effects.

The live webcast of the Summit, available on the designated platform, featured translations in all United Nations languages and Hindi.

In essence, the WHO Global Summit on Traditional Medicine brought together various critical aspects to advance traditional medicine’s integration and impact on health and well-being, aligning with global efforts for sustainable development.