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WHO Initiatives

Around 80% of the world’s population is estimated to use traditional medicine. To date, 170 of the 194 WHO Member States have reported the use of traditional medicine.

WHO’s traditional medicine programme started in 1976; today, through its Traditional, Complementary and Integrative medicine Unit, WHO is working with countries on developing standards and benchmarks for the training and practice of different systems of traditional medicine, and for their evidence-based integration in the International Classification of diseases (ICD).

The Department of Technical Cooperation for Essential Drugs and Traditional Medicine (TCM) is the lead department in WHO for technical cooperation with countries on medicine issues. Using the WHO Medicines Strategy 2004-2007 as its framework, TCM’s priority in technical collaboration is improving access and rational use of quality essential medicines, including traditional and complementary/alternative medicines.

In March 2022, the WHO and the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India signed an agreement to establish the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine. This global knowledge centre for traditional medicine aims to harness the potential of traditional medicine from across the world through modern science and technology to improve the health of people and the planet.

The WHO-GCTM has been established at Jamnagar, Gujarat supported by an investment of USD 250 million from the Government of India. It is the first and only global outposted Centre (office) for traditional medicine across the globe. It focuses on four main strategic areas: evidence and learning; data and analytics; sustainability and equity; and innovation and technology to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to global health and sustainable development.


  • 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.
  • 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.

A first-of-its-kind global summit on Traditional Medicine was organised by the WHO and co-hosted by the Ministry of Ayush on 17-18 August, 2023, at Gandhinagar in Gujarat to explore evidence base, opportunities to accelerate health for all. It was attended by health ministers from G20 and other countries, scientists, practitioners of traditional medicine, health workers and members of civil society from 88 countries.