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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2023  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 89-91

WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicinev

World Ayurveda Foundation, Bangalore, India

Date of Submission16-Apr-2023
Date of Acceptance18-Apr-2023
Date of Web Publication28-Apr-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Geetha Krishnan
World Ayurveda Foundation, Bangalore
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jras.jras_104_23

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How to cite this article:
Krishnan G. WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicinev. J Res Ayurvedic Sci 2023;7, Suppl S1:89-91

How to cite this URL:
Krishnan G. WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicinev. J Res Ayurvedic Sci [serial online] 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 8];7, Suppl S1:89-91. Available from: http://www.jrasccras.com/text.asp?2023/7/5/89/374500

From an international perspective, it is a regular practice that Nations build infrastructure and invest in building global institutions in a self-serving manner. Exceptions are rare, and this rarity makes the Mann Ki Baat (from the heart) broadcast of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi on 27th February 2022 unique. This broadcast provides a glimpse into the thoughts of the Prime Minister that led to his decision to support the World Health Organisation (WHO) to establish its only global centre for traditional medicine (TM)- the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) - in India.[1]

Reciting the “Shanti mantra” that blesses the environment, earth, water, medicinal plants, and the universe with peace and stable existence, Hon’ble PM reminds us of India’s commitment to world peace and environmental well-being for millennia. Recognizing the inseparability of human health from these important universal ideologies, his words remind us of the strengths of Indian Traditional Health systems such as Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha, and Sowa Rigpa born of Indian philosophical thoughts and nurtured in its soil, and that of the TM systems like Unani, Naturopathy, and Homeopathy which our all-embracing society has subsumed and nurtured to glory.

On 19th April 2022, while he launched the GCTM along with Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, the Prime Minister made the largest-ever global commitment of resources for traditional medicine. India will provide the WHO with a quarter billion US dollars for capital investment to set up the GCTM and another 100 million USD in the next ten years, allowing the centre to be run without being dependent or influenced by market powers, narrow national prejudices, or economic interests.[2]

It is India’s long-standing and unwavering commitment to world peace and environmental safety and uninterrupted practice of its culturally inherited philosophy “Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah; Sarve Santu Nairaamaya, Sarve Bhadraani Pashyantu Maa Kaschit Dukhabhaag Bhavet” that lays down the foundation of the thought process defining the UN-SDG goals- “leave no one behind” [3] and that of “One Health”. Undoubtedly, this firm assurance from the leadership of the Nation prompted WHO to choose India to open its first global office in a low-middle income country (the global south), which also happens to be its first international centre in the Southeast Asia region.

Traditional medicine is a transgenerational natural environment knowledge resource on sociocultural pillars. Millions of people use it in every region of the world, and it is the first/ preferred port of call for many. After realizing its potential, we see high-level political patronage for TM, aiming at its potential contributions to PHC and UHC.[4],[5] However, this potential still needs to be fulfilled for most of the 170 Member States of WHO, who acknowledge the use of TM in their communities. They have identified a need for adequate evidence, verifiable data of substance and quality, and appropriate and relevant regulations for TM as the reason for the under-usage of its capacities.[6],[7],[8],[9]

Another vital addition to the value of TM is the global recognition of the importance of a holistic, integrative approach to the health and well-being of people and the planet. This includes developing and establishing evidence-based interventions that will ensure the sustainability of the environment while being conscious and observant of one health approach.[10],[11],[12],[13] Evolving global possibilities of agriculture, manufacturing, trade, and commerce of goods and services in the TM sector, projected to reach the Trillion US dollar mark within the next two decades, makes the sector important in the global economy, employability, and relevance.[14] At the same time, it also makes it vulnerable to actions based on vested and selfish commercial interests that can damage the environment and be detrimental to the financial interests of deprived communities. It is, therefore, essential that Nations are appropriately guided in biodiversity management, supported to ensure equitable trade practices, and put in place regulations to ensure equitable sharing of benefits with communities who have served as the repositories and transmitters of knowledge- acquired over generations.

In the decade when GCTM was established, the evolution of science and new technology has made it possible to re-imagine and explore the perimeters of TM knowledge, which hitherto was unnamable scientific inquiries owing to lack of such knowledge, technology, and skills that are sufficiently advanced. This has exposed TM systems to painful prodding by inquisitive minds, especially its competitors, often with the brutality of “inquests” that often inches close to illogical and unreasonable. It is time to reinvent TM and evolve the TM version 2, which may allow it to retain its acronym TM but be reborn as Timeless Medicine.

The GCTM will support TM’s global needs and aspirations by providing necessary leadership, assuring political patronage, and ensuring societal buy-in. It will help the WHO to include TM in appropriate health system regulations and global health policy dialogues with evidence-backed reports and advisories. It will involve the best possible science and latest technology to develop and deliver such advisories in healthcare, which may be global, regional, or national, or deal with specific public health concerns or special conditions as required. It will develop data platforms and infrastructure and periodically review ground-level realities supporting realigning its capabilities and resources with global implications. It will support global governments and institutions with tools to ascertain the biodiversity impact of TM-related activities and evolve solutions to address the identified sustainability issues. It will facilitate and, as necessary, drive the integration of technology and innovation in TM products and services and bring TM closer to science while focusing on improving accessibility to TM services. It will develop consensus-based frameworks for life course approaches to human life while developing a global well-being framework for future human societies. Creating effective communication strategies, GCTM will ensure engagement with civil society, the private sector, and governments to ensure globally relevant but locally curated health approaches.

With his vision for GCTM founded on the Indian ethos, Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi has laid a solid foundation for the growth and advancement of TM systems globally and has bestowed it the strength to deliver health and well-being of people and the planet by catalyzing ancient wisdom and modern science.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


The author was a Technical Officer of WHO in Geneva until February 2023. The views expressed are personal and do not reflect the opinion of the WHO.

  References Top

WHO to set up centre for traditional medicine in India, PM says matter of pride. The Hindu [Internet]. 2020 13th November [cited 2021 10th January]; Available from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/who-to-set-up-centre-for-traditional-medicine-in-india/article33091388.ece. [Last accessed on 17 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 1
Web Site: WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine: https://www.who.int/initiatives/who-global-centre-for-traditional-medicine/. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 2
Website: UN Sustainable Development Group: Universal Values: Principle Two: Leave No One Behind. Available from: https://unsdg.un.org/2030-agenda/universal-values/leave-no-one-behind. [Last accessed on 18 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 3
UN Political Declaration on UHC: https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N19/311/84/PDF/N1931184.pdf?OpenElement. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 4
TM and UHC: WHA 67.26: https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA67/A67_26-en.pdf. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 5
World Health Organization & United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (2018). A vision for primary health care in the 21st century: towards universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/328065. [Last accessed on 18 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 6
Report of the Inter-Regional Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights in the Context of Traditional Medicine, Bangkok, Thailand, 6-8 December 2000. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/66788. [Last accessed on 17 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 7
World Health Organization. Programme on Traditional Medicine. (2000). General guidelines for methodologies on research and evaluation of traditional medicine. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/66783. [Last accessed on 18 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 8
WHO | International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines (IRCH) [Internet]. WHO. World Health Organization; [cited 2021 10th January]. Available from: http://www.who.int/traditional-complementary-integrative-medicine/collaboration/IRCH/en/. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 9
World Health Organization. (2013). WHO traditional medicine strategy: 2014-2023. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/92455. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 10
World Health Organization. (2019). WHO global report on Traditional and complementary medicine 2019. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/312342. [Last accessed on 20 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 11
The declaration of Alma-Ata on primary health care: Available from: https://www.who.int/teams/social-determinants-of-health/declaration-of-alma-ata. [Last accessed on 19 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 12
World Health Organization. (2019). Declaration of Astana: Global Conference on Primary Health Care: Astana, Kazakhstan, 25 and 26 October 2018. World Health Organization. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/328123. [Last accessed on 18 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 13
The Triple Billion targets: A visual summary of methods to deliver impact. Available from: (https://www.who.int/data/stories/the-triple-billion-targets-a-visual-summary-of-methods-to-deliver-impact). [Last accessed on 17 Apr 2023].  Back to cited text no. 14


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