Terming traditional medicine 'alternative' misleading, says WTO Director-General

World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has slammed the use of the term 'alternative medicine' while referring to traditional medicine. 

"What we term traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine, is sometimes misleadingly termed alternative, but for much of the world's population it's an essential resource and a mainstay for accessible and appropriate health solutions, not a mere alternative or a fashionable lifestyle choice," Dr Ngozi said. 

The WTO Director-General was addressing the inaugural function of the first-ever traditional medicine summit in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The summit aims to formulate a pathway to achieve universal health coverage, in which traditional medicine has a vital role to play, according to Dr Ngozi. 

"Traditional medicine is a vital ingredient for achieving universal health coverage, and for delivering on the sustainable development goals."

In the address, the WTO DG also touched upon the policy challenges involved in making traditional medicine more mainstream and the need for open dialogues to accomplish the same. 

"The multiple interfaces between traditional and Western medical systems are complex, dynamic, and at times controversial. Mapping out the policy challenges posed by traditional medicines has been an integral part of the trilateral cooperation undertaken by WIPO, WHO, and the WTO. We see the need for analysis, debate, and mutual understanding here," Dr Ngozi said. 

The summit was held on August 17-18 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. It was organized jointly by the World Health Organization and the Government of India. Several eminent personalities belonging to the WHO, the Ayush Ministry, and the Ministry of Health took part in the event. 

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