June 2014 John Weeks Integrator Round-Up: International

John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports provides his monthly Integrator Round-Up of the latest news in integrative health including updates in integrative health policy, integrative health research, integrative health resources, useful data points, international integrative health, integrative health professions, integrative health people, and more

World Health Organization approves new traditional medicine strategy

The World Health Organization has formally approved a new traditional medicine strategy that has published late last year. The strategy updates a 2002-2005 plan "for the period 2014-2023 (and) devotes more attention than its predecessor to prioritizing health services and systems, including traditional and complementary medicine products, practices and practitioners." The link to the plan is here. Key objectives are defined as follows:

  • Objective 1: To build the knowledge base for active management of traditional and complementary medicine through appropriate national policies.
  • Objective 2: To strengthen quality assurance, safety, proper use and effectiveness of traditional and complementary medicine by regulating traditional and complementary medicine products, practices and practitioners.
  • Objective 3: To promote universal health coverage by integrating traditional and complementary medicine services into health care service delivery and self-health care.

Comment: The big shift with this strategy was to move from merely focusing on products, the core of the initial plan, to adding the other two "p's" of "practices and practitioners." Objectives #2 and #3 speak to this shift. In addition, the decision to use the term "complementary" links the developments in the less developed world, with which the W.H.O. is most influential, with the way these products, practices and practitioners are increasingly used in the USA and elsewhere in the more industrial world.

Side note
: I had an opportunity to participate in the 2nd and 4th planning meetings of the group, in Hong Kong, where I had the chance to introduce the others to the NCCAM language which is to explore "modalities, systems and disciplines." This, as I recall, morphed into the "products, practices and practitioners" used in the W.H.O. document. Three key Euro-American players in drafting the document were Andrea Burton from Moneytree Creative, in Vancouver, B.C., Michael Smith, BPharm, ND, a senior fellow with the Samueli Institute, and integrative medicine and whole systems research specialist Torkel Falkenberg, MD and at Sweden's Karolinska Institute. Thanks to actuary Heather McLeod for bringing the W.H.O.'s act to my attention.

A taste of international news in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine

For the monthly Integrator feature on the Google Alerts related to "alternative medicine," many news blurbs from around the world appear. The following, from the May 2014 edition, seemed useful to list here in the context of the W.H.O. decision on the 2014-2023 strategic plan on traditional medicines.

Comment:  There is clearly a good deal of interesting activity, all over the map, that suggests value in a W.H.O. strategy relative to the appropriate inclusion of traditional and complementary medicines.