CSO Dialogue between TCIH Coalition and WHO Director-General highlights the need for Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Health (TCIH)

On 3 July 2023, the TCIH Coalition, representing over 300 civil society organizations (CSO), engaged in a productive dialogue with Dr Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) and senior WHO officials, on the priorities and challenges facing traditional, complementary, and integrative health (TCIH) at global, regional, and country levels. The 90-minute CSO-WHO DG Dialogue attracted over 600 virtual attendees, underscoring the interest and importance of the dialogue. 

During this significant dialogue, representatives of the TCIH Coalition, comprising professionals from different TCIH professions and diverse geographical backgrounds, underscored the importance of consumer’s right to choose the healthcare they desire, planetary health, TCIH as a valuable insufficiently tapped resource to healthcare, TCIH research, TCIH education and Indigenous Healthcare. The unified voice of the TCIH Coalition resonated in their call for WHO’s support in developing policy frameworks that recognize and integrate TCIH approaches on a global scale.

The TCIH representatives asked the WHO to:

First, to adopt the term Traditional Complementary and Integrative Health (TCIH) thus recognizing the diversity of professions and practices that go beyond medicine alone.

Second, to recognize the essential contribution of TCIH to global health and well-being:

  1. By providing individuals the right to choose the healthcare they desire
  2. By maximizing the use of TCIH approaches for healthy societies, planetary health and disease management
  3. By supporting a dramatic increase in research activity, commensurate with TCIH use
  4. By requesting countries to protect Indigenous and Traditional knowledge with adequate legislation

Third, to accelerate the integration into health systems and services by supporting countries:

  1. To include TCIH in national health policies for the achievement of UHC
  2. To provide recognition and regulation of TCIH products, practices and practitioners to ensure quality, safety, effectiveness and access, and
  3. To support and respectfully integrate Indigenous practices, with the WHO to hold a forum to listen to indigenous voices.

In his opening remarks, Dr Tedros conveyed WHO’s recognition of the TCIH Coalition, stating that “WHO acknowledges the initiative of the over 300 organizations around the world who have come together to advocate for a person-centred and holistic approach to health.” WHO Director-General further emphasized the role of civil society, stating that, “ WHO appreciates civil society’s role as both advocates and as service providers of traditional, complementary and integrative health care”. With a forward looking vision, Dr Tedros expressed a shared vision for future collaborations, including the upcoming Traditional Medicine Global Summit to be held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India.

This was an important achievement for the TCIH Coalition and we are thankful to the TCIH representatives that contributed to this important CSO-WHO Dialogue. The TCIH Coalition is committed to supporting the regulation, recognition and integration of TCIH at all levels of government and to working with the WHO as it develops a new Traditional Medicine Strategy.

WHO’s report on the dialogue is accessible here.

About the TCIH Coalition

The TCIH Coalition is a global network of civil society organizations dedicated to promoting traditional, complementary, and integrative health as an integral part of healthcare systems. The Coalition advocates for patient-centered care, research, training, regulation, and the recognition of TCIH.