Centre seeks inclusion of traditional medicine on WHO’s list

The inclusion of Ayurveda and related systems on the WHO list will provide it with a common language that allows health professionals to share standardised information across the world

October 14, 2023 06:17 pm | Updated October 15, 2023 02:35 am IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the World Health Organisation headquarters.

A view of the World Health Organisation headquarters.

In a move meant to put the Indian system of medicine on the world map and provide it with a common standardised language, the Union government has sought for Ayurveda and related systems to be included in the 11th revision of the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD), as the second module of a supplementary chapter on traditional medicine conditions.

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The ICD provides a common language that allows health professionals to share standardised information across the world. The traditional medicine module of the 11th revision provides a list of diagnostics categories to collect and report on traditional medicine conditions in a standardised and internationally comparable manner.

Speaking exclusively to The Hindu about the development, Ministry of Ayush Secretary Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said: “We are hopeful that the addition of Module-2 for Ayurveda could happen as early as by next January.”

To aid regulation, research

“Ayurveda and related Indian traditional health care systems are formally recognised and widely practised health care systems in India, which is making a strong and valid point for its inclusion,” said Mr. Kotecha, adding that efforts to effectively regulate traditional medicine as an integral part of the health system require standardised and evidence-based information.

Mr. Kotecha further explained that the traditional medicine chapter under ICD-11 is a formative step for the integration of such forms of medicine into a classification standard used in conventional medicine. “It also provides the means for doing research and evaluation to establish its efficacy,” he said.

The Ministry added that this chapter would also help to respond to growing demands for more and better regulation of traditional medicine, and its integration in mainstream health care and health information systems.

ICD-11 covers Chinese medicine

After a decade of repeated consultations, ICD-11 had facilitated the inclusion of Module-1, which covers traditional medicine conditions originating in ancient China, which are now commonly used in China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere around the world.

The eleventh revision contains around 17,000 unique codes and more than 1,20,000 codable terms, which are now entirely digital. ICD-11 came into effect from January 2022.

The joint use of ICD-11’s chapter on traditional medicine along with other chapters on neoplasm, patient safety, and injuries, can enhance the reporting of adverse events. It will enable the integration of traditional medicine into insurance coverage and reimbursement systems, in line with larger WHO objectives relating to universal health coverage. It will also link traditional medicine practices with global conventional medicine’s norms and standard development.

The development of Module-2 for Ayurveda-related diagnostic systems is being actively supported by the Ministry of Ayush. It extensively banks on the implementation experience gained on the ground by the National Ayush Morbidity and Standardised Terminologies Electronic portal, and the Ayush Health Information Management System, the Ministry said.

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