The World Health Organisation and natural medicine - a discussion

If one wishes to read what the World Health organisation thinks about traditional medicines, the WHO website has as a WHO traditional medicine strategy: 2014-2023. It is always best to read the source information rather than anotherā€™s interpretation.

It is also worth noting that the Beijing Declaration was in relation to traditional medicines and not specifically natural medicines. The declaration does not use the word ā€˜naturalā€™, but uses the word ā€˜traditionalā€™ It also recognises that in some countries traditional medicine may also be called complementary or alternative medicines.

Information on the Beijing Declaration 2008 can be found on this page of the WHO website. The finalised declaration can be found on the link on the right of the page.

The WHO declaration also has six parts. These six parts are also presented in the above declaration link.

The Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property referenced in the 2008 Beijing Declaration can be found here.


Thank you for a balanced and factual reply, @phb. :slight_smile: Itā€™s important to align our world views with evidence in order to be grounded in reality.


It is unfortunate that organisations that know better feel they have to yield to the demands of ā€˜stakeholdersā€™ for ā€˜inclusivenessā€™.

This is simply another sign of that kind of bowing to pressure - in much the same way that some US hospitals now offer ā€˜alternativeā€™ (i.e. untested and unproven) treatments to their patients because they need the money to keep flowing.

The WHO has clearly felt the pressure from certain groups, and would prefer to have them - to use an indelicate phrase - inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent and pissing in. As an international organisation it has to speak for all - and some know very little about the subject of science or medicine.

I am amused by one sentence from the foreword of the WHO report (emphasis added):

TM, of proven quality, safety, and efficacy, contributes to the goal of ensuring that all people have access to care.

Hate to point out the obvious, but where traditional medicines meet this standard we call them medicines.

The foreword goes on to state:

The strategy has two key goals: to support Member States in harnessing the potential contribution of T&CM to health, wellness and peoplecentred health care and to promote the safe and effective use of T&CM through the regulation of products, practices and practitioners. These goals will be reached by implementing three strategic objectives: 1) building the knowledge base and formulating national policies; 2) strengthening safety, quality and effectiveness through regulation; and, 3) promoting universal health coverage by integrating T&CM services and self-health care into national health systems.

I suspect that the proselytisers for ā€˜traditional and complementary medicineā€™ have failed to fully read the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy fully - and have instead focussed on those parts that sound nice to them. Of course, that was no doubt the intent of the framers. While I have not read the full paper, its introduction and executive summary seem very positive to me, in that the WHO is encouraging greater regulation, and an evidentiary basis for medicine.