Global Partners Commit to Advance Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine at WHO Summit


In August, the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted its first-ever Traditional Medicine Global Summit in Gandhinagar, India. At the event, partners and stakeholders from around the world pledged to help provide traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine (TCIM) with a stronger evidence base to expand the scope of integrative healthcare with informed regulations and policies.

Gathered at the event were health ministers from G20 and other countries, along with scientists, traditional medicine practitioners, health workers, and members of civil society representing 88 different countries. Indigenous Peoples from different regions of the world, including Australia, Bolivia, and Brazil, for whom TCIM plays a significant cultural role, were also active participants. During the summit, stakeholders discussed their unique experiences, best practices, and ideas for collaboration. 

Preliminary findings from the WHO Global Survey on Traditional Medicine 2023 shared at the event estimated that around 100 countries have national policies and strategies related to TCIM. The results showed that many WHO member states cover TCIM treatments through national insurance schemes and include them in the essential medicine lists and essential health service pages.

One of the issues highlighted at the summit was the need for a stronger evidence base around TCIM, which would allow officials to develop appropriate regulations and policies. Artificial intelligence (AI) emerged as another topic of discussion. Speakers at the summit suggested that AI can mine complex data on traditional medicine and identify the practices that show the most promise for further scientific evaluation. They said this could lead to policies that expand the safe and effective use of traditional medicine throughout healthcare systems.

To conclude the summit, Hans Kluge, MD, WHO Regional Director for Europe, expressed his hopes to further integrate TCIM into conventional care. “Together, we have gently shaken up the status quo that has, for far too long, separated different approaches to medicine and health. By taking aim at silos, we are saying we will collaborate all the more to find optimal ways to bring traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine well under the umbrella of primary health care and universal health coverage,” he said. “We have reiterated how crucial it is to get better evidence on the effectiveness, safety, and quality of traditional and complementary medicine. That means innovative methodologies for assessing and evaluating outcomes."