India’s neighbours have lauded the WHO’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM), which is being set up at Jamnagar in Gujarat.

At the foundation stone-laying ceremony, in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, leaders of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Mauritius welcomed the landmark initiative for the development of ancient medicine systems.

Prime Minister Modi termed this new partnership between WHO and India on traditional medicines as a “recognition of India’s contribution and India’s potential in this area. India takes this as a big responsibility towards the service of mankind”, he said.

In an online address to the gathering, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, expressed confidence that the WHO’s GCTM at Jamnagar will emerge as a global hub for evidence-based research and standards for traditional medicines.

“We look forward to partnering with the global center on critical issues like quality control, curriculum development and regulatory standards. We should positively consider joint medical research projects in areas of our mutual interest,” said Hasina, adding that in Bangladesh, the traditional medicines have always been a part the history and cultural tradition. The eastern neighbour has also integrated traditional medicine into its national health policy in 2011. “We have officially recognised the potential contribution of Unani, Ayurvedic and homoeopathic medical services to our efforts in achieving UN’s SGD-3,” she said.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Lotay Tshering also expressed joy and satisfaction over India’s efforts in developing the Centre in the region. “With the landmark global centre coming up in Gujarat, we are hopeful of sharing our unique practices and resources at the global forum,” he said adding that Bhutan’s high mountains and valleys are fertile for varieties of medicinal plants and herbs also, the Himalayan country has “always placed equal if not more importance to traditional medical services. We offer both traditional and allopathic medical services under one roof giving people the option to choose between the two.”

The GCTM is supported by Government of India with an investment of $250 million to establish the Centre with an interim office, new location and building, and a 10-year commitment for operating costs. Prime Minister Modi and Dr Tedros laid the foundation stone for WHO's GCTM at Jamnagar on Tuesday.

“The WHO GCTM that we are launching will help to harness the power of science to strengthen the evidence base for traditional medicine,” said Tedros, terming it a “truly global project”.

The WHO’s 107 Member States have national governmental offices for traditional and complimentary medicine. “This will mean that India will go to the world, and the whole world will come to India,” said Tedros.

Underlining the significance and acceptance of the traditional medicine systems, Mauritius' Pravind Jugnauth stated that the country had started celebrating "Ayurveda Day" from October 2016 and subsequently it is being celebrated on Dhanteras day each year. "The Ayurveda day has now become an annual celebration in Mauritius. It provides an opportunity to raise awareness and sensitise the population on benefits of Ayurvedic medicines and treatment," he said. Jugnauth also stated that Mauritius is developing a Centre of Excellence for Ayush and a state of the art Ayush hospital. Significant work has already progressed in this direction, he stated.

Prime Minister Modi stated that the foundation-stone-laying of GCTM can be seen as a foundation of the beginning of the new era of traditional medicines.

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