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The Global Centre for Traditional Medicine will provide leadership on all global health matters under the ambit of traditional medicine

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Dr Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State, Ministry of Ayush in an interaction with Kalyani Sharma explains the key features of recently announced Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) which is being developed jointly by the Ministry of Ayush and the World Health Organisation and is a first-of-its-kind global centre for traditional medicine across the globe

Traditional medicine and Ayurveda are gaining attention from global stakeholders for the treatment and management of multiple diseases. How do you see this opportunity in strengthening the presence of Ayush in medical tourism and accelerating its growth in India?

India is the epicentre of traditional forms of healing, and it goes without saying that every year it receives hundreds and thousands of people from all over the world who seek mind-body health rejuvenation. The government aims to position India as a destination for health and wellness tourism through the Ayush system. The contribution and popularity of Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy and other forms of traditional healing is unparalleled.

The Indian traditional medicine market share has been growing leaps and bounds. Report by Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries shows that the market size of Ayush has grown by 17 per cent between 2014 and 2020 to reach $18.1 billion. India’s share of the traditional medicines market at the global platform is commendable, too – growing from 0.5 per cent in 2016 to 2.8 per cent now.

Towards this effort, the government has formed Champion Services Sector Scheme for medical value travel to amplify medical tourism in the field of Ayush and to offer support by establishing world-class state-of-the-art Ayush hospitals. The government has also developed a National Medical & Wellness Tourism Board to enhance medical, wellness, yoga and Ayurveda tourism. The Global Ayush Innovation Summit this year will further propel the interest of the various stakeholders and the people in the field of medical tourism. The potential of wellness systems, developed through centuries of wisdom of this ancient civilization would be fully tapped. This is being done by positioning India as a centre of Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha, Naturopathy, etc. together with the spiritual philosophy that has been integral to the Indian way of life.

What will be the major highlights and features of the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine?

The Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) is being developed jointly by the Ministry of Ayush and the World Health Organisation and is a first-of-its-kind global centre for traditional medicine across the globe. India is actively integrating traditional healing in the health system by inter-ministerial cooperation, bridging gaps, building robust infrastructure, promoting research and making Ayush systems a key to the public health sector, and the GCTM is an active step towards that direction. The GCTM at Jamnagar aims to combine the use of modern technology and unique traditional medicine practices and therapy on the back of evidence-based policies and standards and help countries integrate it into their health framework. The GCTM would also focus on quality, safety, effective and rational use of traditional medicine.

The GCTM will provide leadership on all global health matters under the ambit of traditional medicine. It will also extend support to member countries of WHO by helping identify challenges faced by the countries in regulating, integrating and positioning traditional medicine in different countries.

How crucial is the role of public-private partnerships in accelerating the growth of traditional medicine globally?

Access to quality healthcare is the universal right of every individual and is a culmination of the efforts by all stakeholders, including both private and public health care institutes, in my belief.

To visualise this, the Global Ayush Investment and Innovation Summit 2022 has been envisaged  to bring together start-ups, entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and various stakeholders for a specially curated event on innovation and entrepreneurship to make India a Global Ayush Destination. The Summit will witness an investors’ meet as well as signing of several memorandums of understanding to accelerate business growth and public private partnerships. We are confident that the Summit will bring in investment opportunities in the absence of foreign direct investment restrictions and ramp up research, development and innovation in the field of traditional medicine.

Can you throw some light on various initiatives and investments by the Ministry of Ayush to increase the accessibility of Ayush services in India?

The Ministry of Ayush has taken several initiatives for the promotion of Ayush services. It has implemented several schemes for promotion of international propagation and global acceptability of Ayush systems of medicine.

As recently as in 2021, the Ayush ministry introduced an online application system to make the processes of granting licences to manufacture traditional medicine easier and more transparent. An MoU was signed between the Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine & Homoeopathy and American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, to help in strengthening, promoting and developing standards in the field of Ayurveda and other Indian traditional medicines.

The government has also established a dedicated Ayush Export Promotion Council to enhance bilateral and multilateral negotiations with countries to boost trade facilitation and recognition of the Ayush System. The Ministry has undertaken various policy initiatives to promote traditional medicine such as launching of National Ayush Mission (NAM) to provide better access to Ayush services by increasing the number of Ayush hospitals and dispensaries, inclusion of Ayush in National Programme for Prevention & Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke (NPCDCS), operationalisation of 12,500 Ayush health and wellness centres under Ayushman Bharat to offer Ayush services.

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