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    Thursday, August 17, 2023

    WHO Holds First Traditional Medicine Summit

    The World Health Organisation held its first summit on traditional medicine on Thursday, with the intention of seeking evidence and data to enable the safe use of such treatments.

    Traditional medicines are a “first port of call for millions of people worldwide,” according to the UN health agency.

    The meetings in India aim to “mobilise political commitment and evidence-based action” towards them.

    Speaking as he opens the summit, WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “WHO is working to build the evidence and data to inform policies, standards, and regulations for the safe, cost-effective, and equitable use of traditional medicine”.

    Traditional medicine could bridge healthcare “access gaps”, but was of value only if used “appropriately, effectively, and above all, safely based on the latest scientific evidence”.

    But WHO has come under criticism from online opponents who accuse it of offering scientific credence to pseudoscience after asking followers in a post if they had used a variety of treatments, including homoeopathy and naturopathy.

    WHO later stated on the social media site X that it had heard the “concerns” and recognised that its “message could have been better articulated.”

    The two-day WHO Traditional Medicine Global Summit takes place alongside a meeting of G20 health ministers in the Indian city of Gandhinagar.

    “We need to face the very important real-life fact that traditional medicines are very widely used,” Nobel laureate and chair of the WHO Science Council Harold Varmus told the summit via video link.

    “It is important to understand what ingredients are actually in traditional medicines, why they work in some cases, and, most importantly, we need to understand and identify which traditional medicines don’t work”.

    The summit, set to become a regular event, follows the opening last year of a WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine, also in India’s Gujarat state. AFP

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