News / Health

    WHO Pursuing Update on Global Strategy for Traditional Medicine

    A patient suffering from facial paralysis undergoes acupuncture treatment at a traditional Chinese medical hospital in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, July 11, 2012.A patient suffering from facial paralysis undergoes acupuncture treatment at a traditional Chinese medical hospital in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, July 11, 2012.
    x
    A patient suffering from facial paralysis undergoes acupuncture treatment at a traditional Chinese medical hospital in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, July 11, 2012.
    A patient suffering from facial paralysis undergoes acupuncture treatment at a traditional Chinese medical hospital in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, July 11, 2012.
    Ivan Broadhead
    The origins of traditional medicine in Asia, Africa and the Americas can be traced back thousands of years.  A successful history of traditional disease prevention and treatment has been viewed with skepticism by contemporary scientists. But such views seem to be changing.
     
    The World Health Organization is meeting in Hong Kong as preparations continue to update a global strategy for traditional medicine first outlined in 2001. 
     
    One fifth of the world’s population is believed to rely on traditional healthcare.  According to WHO figures, 119 countries have developed regulatory frameworks for traditional medicine - or TM. 
     
    Dr. Zhang Qi is coordinator of the Geneva-based agency's traditional and complementary medicine unit. 
     
    “This shows we should recognize the existence and harness the potential of TM [traditional medicine] to contribute to healthcare.  We also [need to] ensure the safety, quality and effectiveness of TM for the public," he said. 
     
    While contemporary clinical science has tended to be skeptical about traditional medicine, the reality, says Professor Rudolf Bauer, is that more than one-third of so-called “modern” medicines are still derived from plants.  Another third are modeled on plant structures. 
     
    “The future goal could be some kind of integrated medicine using both traditional and Western medicine to select the best [treatments] for patients," he said. 
     
    The head of the University of Graz Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bauer says modern medicine appears to be adopting successful methodologies from its older counterpart. 
     
    “TM is not usually one drug for millions of people, but individual mixtures of different herbs to best treat single patients.  This concept of personalized medicine is a very hot topic in Western medicine, especially in cancer treatment.  We realized we need more individualized therapies - and this has been the case in TM for hundreds, even thousands of years," he said. 
     
    Most experts agree the adoption of traditional medicine is going to rise.  Yale University Professor of Pharmacology Dr. Yung-chi Cheng is at the vanguard of modern medical research, inventing widely-used therapies for diseases including cancer, hepatitis, and HIV. 
     
    In 1999, Cheng began exploring the overlap between traditional and contemporary medicine.  Recently he and his colleagues licensed a compound - PHY906 - to improve treatment outcomes and help relieve the pain of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  
     
    “This formula consists of four herbs using exactly the same composition described 1,800 years ago in a classic Chinese medicine book.  I call this ‘poly-chemical medicine’ because it has multiple chemicals.  Today you and I use single-chemical medicines.  This paradigm will evolve to become the cornerstone of future medicine," he said. 
     
    The future looks healthy for traditional medicine, although investment will be required.
     
    In Hong Kong, where the WHO meeting is taking place, 30 percent of the population already uses traditional treatments. 
     
    While the Health Department was not prepared to speak to VOA, the new government of the semi-autonomous Chinese city has reiterated its commitment to make traditional medicine one of “six emerging pillar industries.” 
     
    As representative for 300 traditional medicine producers of the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association, Joseph Lau is not persuaded.  He notes the government does not even keep import and export data for the industry. 
     
    “I think the government is not doing enough to promote traditional medicine.  Over the years they have passed several laws to regulate production.  As a manufacturer, it makes our life a lot harder.  But this is a necessary step we have to go through," he said. 
     
    The China Daily newspaper observed in September that more investment is required for Hong Kong to emerge as a regional TM hub and challenge the Japanese and Korean manufacturers that control 90 percent of the market.  
     
    While regulatory frameworks are expanding and improving, concerns about TM quality persist.  This year, European authorities have issued several warnings on potential contamination of traditional medicines from Hong Kong and China. 
     
    Nonetheless, from a clinical perspective, the testing of new medicines is becoming increasingly rigorous and the credibility of traditional medicine increasingly robust, observes Dr. Cheng.  
     
    “I am a mainstream scientist.  I know what the concerns are.  Many people take a rejectionist approach to TM.  But nowadays evidence and hard science are coming along - many people are starting to consider the possibilities, and I think the mood is changing," he said. 
     
    As the modernization of ancient healthcare practices continues, the World Health Organization expects to implement its forthcoming 10-year global strategy for traditional medicine by 2014. 

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora