Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, minister of state for health and family welfare
The minister of state for health and family welfare, Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, attended WHO high-level meeting on the implementation of WHO traditional medicine strategy: 2014-2023 at Macau SAR, China on October 28, 2013.
Mrs Chowdhary shared India's perspective at the meeting and mentioned that relevance of traditional medicine today is talked about almost at every health forum because the world is facing dual spectrum of health problems, intractable lifestyle diseases and a wide gamut of geriatric health conditions. She said that effective solutions for these kinds of diseases are not found in modern medicine. So, Pluralistic health approach seems ideal and affordable. Therefore governments must adopt multi-dimensional and broad-based policies and strategies to accommodate traditional medicine in the development of health infrastructure and services, she noted.
Speaking about the previous WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005 the minister said that it addressed the issues of policy, safety, efficacy, quality, access and rational use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine. Appreciating the efforts of the member states she said that the number of member states having a formal traditional medicine policy has increased from 25 in 1999 to 69 in 2012; the number of member states that have developed regulations on herbal medicines has increased from 65 in 1999 to 119 in 2012. However, India had enunciated the National Policy on Indian Systems of Medicine and Homeopathy way back in 2002 itself coincidently when global strategy on traditional medicine was framed by WHO.
The minister highlighted that India has a pluralistic healthcare delivery system where the government provides opportunity to every recognized medical system to develop and be practiced. Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, Sowa- Rigpa and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) are recognized systems of traditional medicine in India and they have been integrated into the national health delivery system. There is a peaceful co-existence of Allopathy with AYUSH systems. She said that there is a separate department in our Ministry of Health called Department of AYUSH which provides focused attention for the development and promotion of AYUSH systems at national and international levels.
The minister said that during the last 7years, as many as 15,350 AYUSH facilities have been set up in Primary Health Centers, Community Health Centers and District Hospitals and 12022 AYUSH practitioners and 4905 AYUSH paramedical workers inducted into the Government healthcare services. A policy thrust has been given for functional integration of AYUSH in the initiative of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and national health programmes. She quoted that a survey conducted by National Health Systems Resource Centre (NHSRC) in the year 2008 in 18 States of the country found that AYUSH dispensaries provided services to 20 to 120 patients per facility per day and 80-100 % of the households reported use of AYUSH- based local health traditions.