Indian Traditional Medicine System: Moving Towards Global Acceptance

Indian Traditional Medicine System: Moving Towards Global Acceptance

Indian Traditional Medicine System: Moving Towards Global Acceptance

Authored by  : Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha

Secretary, Ministry of Ayush, GoI

From ancient to the modern culture of human healthcare, eons have witnessed the heritage of great Indian Traditional Medicine Systems. We have been living in a culture of a holistic healthcare system with a rich repository of various disease terminologies, data, and treatment formulae. Following multiple streams of ancient medicinal systems like Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani, our ancient Vaidyas, health professionals have transferred traditional healthcare values from one generation to the next. Ayush focuses on stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities and restoring the balance between mind, body, and consciousness.

In today’s era of globalization, it has become the demand of time to create mechanisms of universally proven and evidence-based medical systems to cater to the global human population with similar methods of medical treatment. At the Ministry of Ayush, a strong framework has been structured to cater to this need. The recent establishment of the first and only Global Centre of Traditional Medicine at Jamnagar Gujarat by the World Health Organization has marked a milestone in the global acceptance of the traditional medicine system. The field of international healthcare has witnessed a significant paradigm shift in recent years, with a growing recognition of the potential benefits of incorporating traditional medicine (TM) into mainstream medical practices.

This time, the Ministry of Ayush is coming up with a wave of international medical revolution. Now the terminologies of various diseases in Ayush healthcare, Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani will be included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) 11 prepared by the World Health Organisation. The International Classification of Diseases maintained by WHO is the key instrument for member countries like India to collect primary as well as secondary data on various communicable and non-communicable diseases and mortality statistics.

The Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare acts as a WHO Collaborating Centre for ICD-related activities and facilitates morbidity and mortality data collection and dissemination. Previously, the collected data was predominantly based on the health conditions diagnosable through biomedicine only. The stats and glossaries about the disorder conditions based on Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani systems from Ayush were not part of the captured data. Although some countries have had national Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani classification systems for many years, the information from such systems has not been standardized nor made available globally. By including Ayush within the ICD, international standardization will be possible allowing for measuring, counting, comparing, formulating questions, and monitoring over time. With this initiative of the World Health Organization and the support of the Ministry of Ayush, now the collected data about the disease terminologies from Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha will be converted into morbidity codes and included in the international classification of diseases.

 India is committed to implementing the ICD 11 TM2 module for the collection of morbidity statistics for public health care delivery, Ayush Insurance coverage, research and development, policy-making, and development of future strategies to curb different diseases in society. Infectious diseases like Malaria and lifestyle diseases like Chronic Insomnia are included in this classification. Diseases like Giddiness disorder with the acronyms in Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani as Brahm, Azal Kirukiruppu, and Sadr-O-Duwar respectively are some commonly known diseases that are being released as a glossary of codes by WHO through ICD11.

By incorporating TM2 into ICD-11, the WHO encourages the rigorous scientific evaluation of traditional practices. This move can lead to more robust research on TM modalities, ensuring that effective and safe treatments are recognized and utilized in appropriate clinical settings.

The inclusion of TM2 in ICD-11 facilitates the exchange of medical knowledge between different cultures and healthcare systems. This cross-cultural collaboration can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of health and disease, paving the way for innovative and inclusive healthcare solutions. This integration can expand access to healthcare and promote cost-effective interventions.

Continuous demand from different dimensions of Ayush systems across the globe led to rigorous efforts in India and come up with Ayurveda-Unani-Siddha standardised terminologies and National Morbidity codes. The development of National Ayush Morbidity and Standardised Terminologies Electronic (NAMASTE) Portal (2017) was a consequence of this effort only. The portal created a platform for testing and validation of Ayurveda-Unani-Siddha diagnoses and terminologies. The implementation of the same in the real-time clinical setting was initiated through the Ayush-Hospital Management Information System (A-HMIS) in the year 2018.

The Donor Agreement signed between the Ministry of Ayush and WHO for developing a second module in the traditional medicine chapter of the International Classification of Diseases-11, (ICD-11) on 11th February 2020 was a breakthrough development in this process. It’s a matter of satisfaction that the global reach of the traditional medicine system is intensifying many other member countries of WHO to apply the same format of inclusion of Traditional Medicine diseases terminologies to ICD.

This trend is a response to the increasing demand for a more holistic approach to patient care, acknowledging that well-being is influenced by a myriad of physical, psychological, and social factors. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) has been instrumental in shaping healthcare policies worldwide, and its 11th revision (ICD-11) marks a crucial milestone in recognizing the value of TM.

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