On 19 April 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the first-of-its-kind WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat. Earlier, the Prime Minister had said the GCTM would go a long way in enhancing wellness in society.

What is traditional medicine?

  1. The WHO describes traditional medicine as 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”.
  2. Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines, the WHO says.
  3. Traditional medicine in India is often defined as including practices and therapies — such as yoga, Ayurveda, Siddha — that have been part of Indian tradition historically, as well as others — such as homeopathy — that became part of Indian tradition over the years.
  4. Ayurveda and yoga are practised widely across the country; the Siddha system is followed predominantly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala; the Sowa-Rigpa system is practised mainly in Leh-Ladakh and Himalayan regions such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul & Spiti.

What is the GCTM?

  1. The GCTM will aim to focus on evidence-based research, innovation, and data analysis to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health.
  2. Its main focus will be to develop norms, standards and guidelines in technical areas relating to traditional medicine.
  3. On 3 November 2020, Dr Tedros announced the establishment of the WHO GCTM in India.
  4. The Union Cabinet in March this year approved its establishment in Jamnagar with the signing of a host country agreement between the Government of India and the WHO.
  5. India has committed an estimated $250 million to support the GCTM’s establishment, infrastructure and operations.