anme-INFO by Nora Laubstein

On July 3, 2023, WHO had invited representatives from the field of Traditional and Complementary Medicine worldwide to an online conversation in Geneva. After this year's WHO annual meeting, it was announced that a new WHO strategy on traditional medicine for 2025-2035 would be developed.

On site, at the WHO's Geneva office, representatives of the WHO were joined by a representative of the IVAA Anthroposophical Medical Association. The two-hour event was the initiative of the "Coalition for Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Health Care - TCIH." This coalition consists of the union of EUROCAM and the WNF (World Naturopathic Federation) and thus their member associations. This TCIH coalition had published a declaration a year ago, in which their ideas and demands for an inclusion of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in the state health care systems are listed. In very simplified terms, these consist of three points:

  1. Instead of talking about CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) or TM (Traditional Medicine), the abbreviation "TCIH" for "Traditional complementary and integrative healthcare" should be used in the future.
  2. To recognize and regulate TCIH products, methods and professional practitioners to ensure quality, safety, efficacy and access.
  3. Support and respectful integration of indigenous practices, with WHO establishing a forum to hear indigenous voices.

An initial coordination meeting is to be held Aug. 17-18 at the Global Center for Traditional Medicine in India to plan the new WHO strategy. The committee there is made up of scientists, including from the Cochrane Society. Whether the wishes of the coalition for TCIH will be incorporated there is open. “We are on the same page,” stated WHO`s General Secretary.

Comment: Besides all aspects of integrative and evidence-based medicine, we should not forget the large group of the world population that uses traditional medicine as a cultural heritage! Especially topics like health promotion, self-improvement, prevention and health care are still based on knowledge and experience worldwide. Therefore, it would be important to consider this in the new WHO strategy! Both, Integrative Medicine as part of the clinical sector of the public health system, and Traditional & Complementary Medicine, which is based on knowledge and experience, should have a future and acceptance in the new WHO strategy. Will it be a good idea to dispense with the word "medicine" altogether.
The second demand of the coalition for TCIH has many dangerous aspects and could mean the exclusion or end of many achievements; - unless broader interdisciplinary study designs with ecology, real sustainability, quality research, individual and socio-cultural researches are developed. It would be nice if the new WHO strategy would include this approach to broad interdisciplinary scientific research! Traditional & Complementary Medicine is based on a tradition of several thousand years and still serves today and tomorrow.

The following two links lead first to the WHO press release and second to the detailed report of the Coalition for TCIH, including their concrete demands and wishes:

WHO Director-General discusses priorities on traditional, complementary and integrative healthcare with civil society

CSO Dialogue between TCIH Coalition and WHO Director-General highlights the need for Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Health (TCIH)