Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, has performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the first-of-its-kind WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat.


What is ‘traditional medicine’?

  • The WHO describes traditional medicine as the total sum of the “knowledge, skills and practices indigenous and different cultures have used over time to maintain health and prevent, diagnose and treat physical and mental illness”.
  • Its reach encompasses ancient practices such as acupuncture, ayurvedic medicine and herbal mixtures as well as modern medicines.
  • Traditional medicine in India is often defined as including practices and therapies — such as yoga, Ayurveda, Siddha — that have been part of Indian tradition historically, as well as others — such as homeopathy — that became part of Indian tradition over the years.
  • Ayurveda and yoga are practised widely across the country; the Siddha system is followed predominantly in Tamil Nadu and Kerala; the Sowa-Rigpa system is practised mainly in Leh-Ladakh and Himalayan regions such as Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Darjeeling, Lahaul & Spiti.



The WHO GCTM will be established in Jamnagar under the Ministry of AYUSH.  This would be the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe.



  • to position AYUSH systems across the globe
  • to provide leadership on global health matters pertaining to traditional medicine.
  • To ensure quality, safety and efficacy, accessibility and rational use of traditional medicine.
  • To develop norms, standards, and guidelines in relevant technical areas, tools and methodologies, for collecting data undertaking analytics, and assess impact.  Envisage WHO TM Informatics centre creating a collaborative of existing TM Data banks, virtual libraries, and academic and research institutes.
  • To develop specific capacity building and training programmes in the areas of relevance to the objectives and conduct training programmes in campus, residential, or web-based, and through partnerships with the WHO Academy and other strategic partners.


Functions of GCTM –

The WHO GCTM would provide leadership on all global health matters related to traditional medicine as well as extend support to member countries in shaping various policies related to traditional medicine research, practices and public health.


Traditional medicines in India –

  • The traditional Indian system of medicine, which comprises of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (AYUSH), is a perennially neglected alternative medicine sector. It played an important role against the imperialistic British reign by the cultural nationalistic reassertion but is losing its significance in modern times.
  • These systems are based on definite medical philosophies and represent a way of healthy living with established concepts on prevention of diseases and promotion of health.
  • Importance and demand of Yoga, Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Siddha and Unani medical systems have grown especially due to growing challenges of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), lifestyle disorders, long term diseases, multi-drug resistant diseases, which are not easily solved by the allopathic medical system.
  • After Independence, the Government started supporting all the medical systems for their growth, thereby offering the public a choice for their routine health care need. Because of this as now there are public patronage and institutional support to widen the strength of these systems in curative, preventive, promotive aspects of health care.
  • Challenges – The traditional system of medicine faces the problem of inadequate resources, lack of health centres, capacity building, practitioners and public faith on its efficiency. There are dishonest practices by most of the AYUSH practitioners making allopathy look more trustworthy.


Significance –

  • WHO Global Centre of Traditional Medicine in India will help to strengthen the evidence, research, training and awareness of traditional and complementary medicine.
  • This new centre will support WHO’s efforts to implement the WHO traditional medicine strategy 2014-2023, which aims to support countries in developing policies and action plans to strengthen the role of traditional medicine.