“Throughout the world, traditional medicine is either the primary mode of health care delivery, or a complement to it. In some countries, traditional or unconventional medicine is called complementary medicine.”
These are the words of Dr Margaret Chan, Director General (2007-2017) of the World Health Organization (WHO) who published in 2013 a strategy for traditional medicine 2014-2023. This is an update of the WHO strategy for traditional medicine 2002-2005 based on the progress made by some countries and new challenges in the field of traditional medicine.
Traditional medicine is very old. It is, according to WHO, the sum of all knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences specific to different cultures, whether explainable or not, and which are used in the preservation of health, as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical or mental illnesses.
Traditional medicine has been practiced around the world for a long time to preserve health or prevent and treat illnesses, especially chronic illnesses, recognizes WHO.
The WHO strategy for traditional medicine 2014-2023 reassesses the strategy established for 2002-2005 and makes it the starting point for the definition of the line of action for traditional medicine during the decade 2014-2023, says Dr Chan.
Traditional medicine, she continues, is an important and often underestimated part of health care. However, it exists in almost all countries of the world, and the demand for these services, recognizes the WHO, is in clear progression. “Traditional medicine, which has proven quality, safety and efficacy, is helping to achieve the goal of universal access to care,” said Dr Chan.