A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation on traditional medicine and homoeopathy is to be signed between India and Bangladesh this week. “This is the age of holistic medicine. No single line of treatment is supreme. I intend giving the ancient wisdom contained in our evidence-based medicine pride of place in public health, ” Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, said today before leaving for Dhaka to attend the 67th general meeting of World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Regional Committee between September 9 and 12. The MoU is to be signed at a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. It would cover exchanges of experts, training, mutual recognition of systems, qualification and pharmacopoeias, and provide further scope for research collaborations. It will be in line with the “Delhi Declaration” adopted at the International Conference on Traditional Medicine for the South East Asian Countries in February 2013 calling for cooperation between the governments of the region.
Dr Harsh Vardhan observed that Bangladesh has a rich tradition in traditional medicine. One of the first organised Ayurvedic drug businesses of the sub-continent, Sadhana Ausadhalaya, was started exactly a century ago in 1914 in Dhaka by Shri Jogesh Chandra Ghosh. The company is still flourishing under his descendants. In rural Bangladesh to this day, Ayurveda, Unani and Homoeopathy streams of medicine are highly popular. There are a large number of medicinal plants which are common to both countries giving scope for exchange of useful information. Dr Harsh Vardhan will address the opening session on Tuesday as India presently holds the chair of the committee. He will later call on the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Ms. Sheikh Hasina, and hold bilateral meetings with health ministers of member countries on the sidelines of the conference. A meeting with Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, on the health issues of India is also planned. The regional committee is a forum of health ministers drawn from South East Asian region to deliberate on various aspects of public health policy, agendas, priorities, their implementation and inter-government cooperation.
An existing MoU on Kala Azar, which currently includes India, Bangladesh and Nepal, would be renewed and expanded to include Bhutan and Thailand. A session on comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of Autism Spectrum Disorders is also on the agenda. Also on the agenda is the “Dhaka Declaration on Vector Borne Diseases”. This would be significant as the South –East Asia region has high rate of morbidity and mortality due to malaria, chikungunya, encephalitis, etc. One of the significant sessions will be on the WHO’s Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. It was adopted in 2010 after two years of consultations involving all the six regions of WHO. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that immoderate consumption of alcohol affects the youth population of India greatly. It is one of the four most common modifiable and preventable risk factors for non-communicable diseases. I look forward to learning more about the strategy.”