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India has a pluralistic health care delivery system to provide integrated and holistic health care services in the country – Azad

India has a pluralistic health care delivery system where the Government provides opportunities to every recognized medical system to develop and practice with a view to provide integrated and holistic healthcare services. It is open to patronizing best practices and proven standards for the benefit of the people. There is a peaceful co-existence of Allopathy with Ayurveda, Yoga, Siddha, Sowa-Rigpa, Unani and Homoeopathy in our country. Shri GhulamNabi Azad, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare said this in New Delhi today.

Addressing the Inaugural Programme of the International Conference on Traditional Medicine for South East Asian Countries, Shri Azad said all these medical systems are being utilized in the national health care delivery system, each to its potential and availability in different parts of the country.The aim is to provide accessible, affordable, safe and quality healthcare to the people. There is a separate Department of AYUSH of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha & Sowa-Rigpa and Homeopathy in the Health Ministry to look after traditional medicine. Traditional medicine services have been incorporated in the public health delivery system since 1960s when AYUSH facilities were set up under one roof in the Central Government Health Scheme dispensaries for the benefit of central government employees.The process of mainstreaming has beenfurther augmented under the National Rural Health Mission, with co-location of traditional medicine and homeopathy facilities in the primary health network and capacity building of AYUSH practitioners in the national programmes of Reproductive & Child Health, Safe Child Birth, School Health, Anemia control and Malaria eradication.

In order to strengthen the AYUSH systems and their revalidation, various initiatives have been taken by the Health Ministry. These include infrastructure development by establishing five Research Councils dedicated for research in each of the AYUSH systems; establishment of Pharmacopoiea Commission of Indian Medicine for developing standards of Ayurveda, Siddha andUnani drugs; promoting collaboration among various research councils under different ministries as well universities and organizations. The interdisciplinary research involving scientists of basic sciences, chemists, pharmacologists, biologists as well as engineers has also been encouraged in core areas of research in AYUSH systems. These include Fundamental Research comprising of interpretation and revalidation of basic principles of AYUSH systems;Literature Research covering revival, preservation, translation, critical analysis, systematization and publication of manuscripts; Drug Research including Medical, Ethnic and Botanical Surveys, Cultivation of Medicinal Plants, Standardization and quality control, Preclinical safety, toxicity and biological activity screening and Clinical Research encompassing observation studies and phased clinical trials. Modern advanced technologies like Genomics are also being used to study the fundamental concepts ofPrakriti; i.e. Body constitution described in Ayurveda. AYUSH drugs are being studied with advanced techniques for their activity on immune systems in disease like HIV-AIDS, for anticancer activity and Anti-diabetic activity. In order to make research findings in AYUSH systems and allied faculties accessible through the web, the Department of AYUSH has developed an ‘AYUSH research portal’ which can be accessed by everyone.

Shri Azad said the South-East Asian (SEA) countries have a rich heritage of several systems of Traditional Medicine. They have vast resources of medicinal plants and huge repositories of knowledge. Different systems of traditional medicine have been used in the South-East Asia Region (SEAR) countries for centuries. Due to this long history, the role of Traditional Medicine and its practitioners have been recognized by the governments in this region.WHO Regional Office has also been assisting South East Asia Region countries to promote the use of Traditional Medicine so that this valuable resource is utilized safely and effectively. Harmonized approaches based on best acceptable models existing in the region or other parts of the world could be instrumental in steering unified development of traditional medical education, practice, regulation and progress toward mutual recognition of systems, qualifications, pharmacopoeias and other related aspects. The time has come to take up a common regional agenda for traditional medicine. He hoped the discussions and outcomes of the conference would be a vision for action and strategic implementation in the South East Asia Region countries in traditional medicines.

Addressing the inaugural programme, Dr. SamleePlianbangchang, Regional Director General of WHOoutlined the steps to be taken for promoting the team in SEARO countries.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of WHO, in her recorded message, highlighted the challenges of integrating the Traditional Medicine in Health Care. Earlier ShriAnil Kumar, Secretary, Department of AYUSH narrated the huge infrastructure of AYUSH developed by Govt. of India in the country and initiatives taken by the Department in quality of AYUSH drugs and practices. He appreciated the strengths of TM in the prevention and control of Non Communicable Diseases and recommended for strengthening these systems by solid research.

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