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“The Global Summit for Traditional Medicine serves as a beacon of hope, promoting a holistic approach to health and well-being. By embracing ancient wisdom and modern science, we can collectively work towards achieving the health-related Sustainable Development Goals while fostering a ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ ethos.” This was stated by Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, in the presence of Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ayush, Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, as he inaugurated the WHO’s first ever Global Summit for Traditional Medicine. Co-hosted by the Ministry of Ayush, the summit is a Co-branded event as part of the ongoing G20 Health Ministers’ Meeting being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat from 17th to 19th August. The inauguration event was also attended by Dr. Munjpara Mahendrabhai Kalubhai, Minister of State for Ayush, Shri Rushikesh Patel, Gujarat Health Minister, Ms Lonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan, and Ms. Vivian T. Camacho Hinojosa, National Director of Ancestral Traditional Medicine, Bolivia.

 The two -day summit, from 17th to 18th August, with the theme “Towards Health and Well-being for All”, will explore the role of traditional complimentary and integrative medicine in addressing pressing health challenges and driving progress in global health and sustainable development.

On the occasion of the first ever Global Summit on Traditional Medicine, Dr. Mandaviya said, “This Global Summit presents a unique platform for dialogue, idea exchange, collaboration, and international partnerships in the realm of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. For centuries, traditional and complementary medicine has played a pivotal role in promoting personal and community health. Even in modern times, the demand for natural and herbal-based pharmaceuticals and cosmetics underscores the enduring significance of traditional healing practices.”

Welcoming the delegates, and ministers to Gujarat, Dr. Mandaviya said, “Gandhinagar, a city bearing the name of Mahatma Gandhi, the revered Father of the Nation, serves as a fitting backdrop for this prestigious summit. Gujarat, a land, rich in history and culture, is also the birthplace of legends such as Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the Ironman of India. His indomitable spirit and commitment to national integration in the wake of independence have left an indelible mark on our country.”

On the WHO’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicine headquartered in Jamnagar, Gujarat, Dr. Mandaviya said, “This center serves as a knowledge hub, synergizing ancient wisdom with modern science for the betterment of people and the planet. By supplementing WHO’s core functions, the center accelerates the advancement of traditional medicine globally.”

Shri Sarbanand Sonowal, at the inaugural event said, “The first ever Global Summit for Traditional Medicine holds immense significance as it goes beyond borders, unites mind for future of healthcare, and signifies the dawn of a new era in healthcare globally.” He stressed that the summit will help identify potential areas for collaboration, and innovation in traditional medicines, and help harness traditional medicine in achieving Universal Health Coverage goals.

On the ties of Traditional Medicine to local communities, Shri Sonowal said, “Traditional Medicine can play a huge role in honouring cultural diversity, empowering communities, and celebrating our shared heritage, while at the same time improving health and well-being globally.”

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the inaugural event acknowledged the efforts of India to enhance Universal Health Coverage under the umbrella scheme of Ayushman Bharat. His visit to a Health and Wellness Centre a day prior helped him witness the extension of primary health services in the country. He also highlighted India’s adoption of telemedicine, which not only expands health service delivery, but also help saves time, and money for patients.

Dr. Ghebreyesus stressed on the link between traditional medicines, and the environment, and said, “Traditional Medicine is as old as humanity itself, people in all nations have used traditional healing practices at some point in their lives.” He highlighted how the sources of many modern drugs can be traced to use of traditional medicine methods by communities like willow bark, and periwinkle which forms the basis for aspirin, and cancer drugs.

Dr. Ghebreyesus said that he hoped that the Gujarat Declaration, the outcome of this summit, will integrate use of traditional medicines in national health systems, and help unlock the power of traditional medicine through science.

The Director General of the World Trade Organization, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in a video message highlighted that traditional medicine is not antithetical, rather it is complementary to modern medicine. She hoped that the summit will help widen the understanding of traditional medicine, and serve as concerted and inclusive platform for the issues raised at the Summit.

Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat, at the event said that it is a matter of pride for Gujarat, and India to host the first ever Global Summit on Traditional Medicine. Quoting an ancient Indian scripture he said, “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah; sarve santu nairaamaya,”May all be happy, all be free from disease, this has always been India’s belief, in line with it’s philosophy of Vasudhiva Kutumbakam, the world is one family.”

Ms Lonpo Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Minister of Health, Bhutan, spoke of the focus on Sowa Rigpa in Bhutan, and said, “Our traditional medicines are not just systems of healing, but are vital building block of our healthcare system.”

The summit will see two days of detailed deliberation and knowledge sharing on various facets of Traditional Medicine in the world, ranging from the need, impact, innovation, and data on use of traditional systems of medicine. A dedicated exhibition for traditional medicine, showcasing the value, and diversity in traditional medicine across the globe will also be inaugurated as part of the Summit today.

Shri Sudhansh Pant, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary, Ministry of Ayush, Dr. Hans Kluge WHO Regional Director Europe, and Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director, South East Asia Region, also participated at the inauguration event.  The event will witness the participation of scientists, practitioners of traditional medicine, health workers and members of the civil society organizations from across the world in the next two days.