MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

A press release informs us that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of India recently signed an agreement to establish the ‘WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine’. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine, supported by an investment of USD 250 million from the Government of India, aims to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet.

“For many millions of people around the world, traditional medicine is the first port of call to treat many diseases,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Ensuring all people have access to safe and effective treatment is an essential part of WHO’s mission, and this new center will help to harness the power of science to strengthen the evidence base for traditional medicine. I’m grateful to the Government of India for its support, and we look forward to making it a success.”

The term traditional medicine describes the total sum of the knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness. Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.

“It is heartening to learn about the signing of the Host Country Agreement for the establishment of Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM). The agreement between Ministry of Ayush and World Health Organization (WHO) to establish the WHO-GCTM at Jamnagar, Gujarat, is a commendable initiative,” said Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. “Through various initiatives, our government has been tireless in its endeavour to make preventive and curative healthcare, affordable and accessible to all. May the global centre at Jamnagar help in providing the best healthcare solutions to the world.”

The new WHO centre will concentrate on building a solid evidence base for policies and standards on traditional medicine practices and products and help countries integrate it as appropriate into their health systems and regulate its quality and safety for optimal and sustainable impact.

The new centre focuses on four main strategic areas: evidence and learning; data and analytics; sustainability and equity; and innovation and technology to optimize the contribution of traditional medicine to global health and sustainable development.

The onsite launch of the new WHO global centre for traditional medicine in Jamnagar, Gujarat, India will take place on April 21, 2022.

__________________________

Of course, one must wait and see who will direct the unit and what work the new centre produces. But I cannot help feeling a little anxious. The press release is full of hot air and platitudes and the track record of the Indian Ministry of Ayush is quite frankly abominable. Here are a few of my previous posts that, I think, justify this statement:

 

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17 Responses to The new ‘WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine’ in India

  • The mission of this centre is to show that TM does work rather than to identify any evidence that it does work – or not.
    No nul hypothesis there.

    And unlike a well known centre that used to be based at Exeter University!

    “Work” in the sense of having a recognisable effect on any pathological process.
    If any plausible, reproducible evidence is ever produced demonstrating that a TM practice ‘works’ – it will be taken up by current, modern, medicine and cease to be classified as ‘traditional medicine’ save that it is “based on traditional methods…”. As much of modern medicine is – no problem.

    TM of course does work in the sense of making many poor and benighted sufferers feel better – but they are being misled and that is to be deprecated.

    The clue to this being an issue is in the statement of Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. “Through various initiatives, our government has been tireless in its endeavour to make preventive and curative healthcare, affordable and accessible to all.”

    Another way of saying, “We have to give the population something and this is all we can afford.”
    Integrity has left the hospital, clinic, health centre.
    Sigh.

    • yes, BIG sigh!

    • I was formulating a reply upon reading, “…harness the power of science to strengthen the evidence base…”, but you have covered that very well. How can someone who heads up the WHO, and whose statements I have found useful and seemingly science-based throughout the pandemic, make such a blunder? It was the same here in the States with the creation of some Office of Alternative Medicine (the exact acronym escapes me at the moment) funded by a long dead Senator who was convinced that bee pollen cured his of something or other. After a few years with nothing but negative results he got very angry that the new department was not finding the evidence he believed existed.

      So yes, it does remind me of the whole thing at Exeter. All this has been written about at length, but WHO and Modi seem not to have got the memo.

      Orac, over at Respectful Insolence has also covered the efforts of Mao to do much the same for China by offereing TCM and acupuncture to the peasants in lieu of actual healthcare.

      Nothing new here and a travesty for the poorer people of India.

      • The senator you refer to is Tom Harkin of Iowa who was in the US Senate from 1985 to 2015, far too long. Harkin was born in 1939 and not at all long dead and I hope enjoying retirement.

        Harkin was largely responsible for creation of the U.S. Office of Alternative Medicine in 1992. That expensive entity was eventually renamed National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and became even more expensive.

        Research money is not easy to come by and it is sad that a lot of money has been squandered in this endeavor.

        • and recently it was again re-named into National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCIAH)
          https://www.nccih.nih.gov/

        • Ray

          It’s no surprise to me, because most government agencies are expensive, and some are downright counter productive.

          I could give many examples, the most obvious is the US DOE (Department Of Education).
          The DOE cost many many billions of dollars every year, and accomplished almost nothing that local and state agencies could not govern on their own.

          Since the inception in 1980, the cost of education has risen sharply, while the quality of education sank miserably. In fact, USA primary education quality is among the lowest of leading world countries, while the cost are near the highest.

          When a government agency does more harm than good, it should be eliminated, and the money returned to the taxpayers.

          Don’t look for government agencies to be inexpensive, nor productive. That includes the US FDA.

          • Exactly. You must have read my mind remotely. I had the same thoughts but kept my remarks on the topic of that dismal department. The Department of Education is an even more costly boondoggle. Just imagine what could have been if that costly department had but a few dozen employees whose mission was to put science labs in every high school and a library in every school. What has transpired instead is an outrage.

    • “Another way of saying, “We have to give the population something and this is all we can afford.”

      Isn’t that statement similar to the excuse used by Mao to push for TCM . There wasn’t any infrastructure or resources to bring Western medicine to China so Mao exploited the antiquated folkloric remains and essentially created TCM:

      https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/traditional-chinese-medicine-gets-a-boost/

  • Edzard, do you think as part of the “Global Center for Alternative Medicine”, the who will take on the role traditional medicine plays in the exploitation, and drive to extinction of many of the animal species used in traditional folkloric medicine. Examples include the pangolin, rhinoceros, etc…. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/ten-threatened-and-endangered-species-used-in-traditional-medicine-112814487/.

    Given the WHO has the time and money to explore folk medicine, shouldn’t they devote some of the funds and energy to saving some animals?

    • we shall have to wait and see what the centre does

      • No, Edzard, I firmly disagree.
        During the last decades, any WHO dealings with traditional medicines have been disastrous, so we should know from the beginning that this new centre will do nothing but create more disaster.
        As to me, I still cannot believe the atrocity that in WHO’s ICD-11 they really include some of the most absurd aspects of TCM etiology, e.g. SF73 declaring “Spleen deficiency with food retention pattern (TM1)” a valid code for certain gastro-intestinal syndromes. Neither the so-called TCM “professors” of China’s “TCM universities” nor the SATCM (the Chinese State Administration of TCM, now renamed “NATCM” = National Administration of TCM) nor the WHO mafia ever thought it necessary to discuss the role of the so-called “spleen” in Traditional Chinese medicine, which is said to be responsible for food uptake and digestion (although there has been a fierce discussion about it in China when Western anatomy entered the Middle Kingdom after 1835).
        I think, scientific medicine and rational physicians did long enough “wait and see what the (WHO) centre does”. No, Sir! We know from the very beginning that this WHO, when dealing with “traditional” medicines (Homeopathy being “traditional” in India, just laughable!) is nothing but a bunch of politically dominated anti-scientific gangsters.We should not “wait and see”, but protest and fight against them.

  • “The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa and Homoeopathy (abbreviated as AYUSH) is purposed with developing education, research and propagation of indigenous alternative medicine systems in India. As per a recent notification published in the Gazette of India on 13 April 2021, the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), will now be known as the Ministry of Ayush. The Ministry of Ayush includes the seven traditional systems of healthcare.”

    In the above, the “research” referred to is into ‘how to promote and propogate these faith-based systems in the absense of any reproducible plausible evidence of the modalities used having any effect on health or disease beyond placebo responses.”

    (Aspects of yoga can assist musculo-skeletal issues, but set aside the psychic elements, please.)

    I don’t object to that ambition as such. I do find it sticks in my throat that politicians, ministers, let alone practitioners try to take advantage of the innocent, poorly informed, gullible and vulnerable by misrepresenting the situation.

    In the West we are hardly better.
    n the UK, we have a senior politician whose knowledge of biology has recently been exposed as being, shall we say, inadequate.
    Politicians will always try to manipulate science for political ends.
    Scientists must do their best to corral politicians.
    Galileo (and many others) had to deal with this problem.
    It’s called ‘integrity’.

    • Richard Rawlins said;

      “n the UK, we have a senior politician whose knowledge of biology has recently been exposed as being, shall we say, inadequate.
      Politicians will always try to manipulate science for political ends.
      Scientists must do their best to corral politicians.”

      So what should be the outcome when corporations try to manipulate science for financial gains ?

  • I must say I am disappointed at the negative reactions seen here. I have been following the Ayush’s advice o daily does fresh garlic taken internally ad applied externally and fresh cow dung applied externally daily and I have not had Covid-19 yet. Proof of the validity of traditional Indian medicine!

    My social life has been a bit limited.

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