World Health Organisation Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus on Wednesday said long-term strategic investments along with government support are crucial to fostering innovation in the field of traditional medicine.
He also said that through the growing AYUSH sector "India will go to the whole world and the whole world will come to India".
Speaking at the Global AYUSH Investment and Innovation Summit at Mahatma Mandir here in Gujarat, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the WHO chief underlined the need to support the innovation ecosystem for health in general and traditional medicine in particular.
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth, AYUSH Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other dignitaries were present.
"Going forward, long-term strategic investment along with the government commitment is needed to support the innovation ecosystem for the health in general and the traditional medicine in particular," said Dr Ghebreyesus.
He also stressed that innovators, industry and the government should come forward to develop traditional medicine "in a sustainable, environmentally sensitive and equitable manner".
"When bringing traditional medicines to market, we must make sure that the communities which had passed on this knowledge and nurtured these traditional products also benefit from their development, including by sharing the fruits of intellectual property," said Dr Ghebreyesus.
According to him, the AYUSH sector, which comprises six Indian systems of medicine - Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy - is "growing significantly by 17 per cent per year since 2014".
The WHO director general added that the AYUSH industry is projected to reach USD 23 billion by the end of this year.
"This fast-moving industry which spans so many areas, such as dietary, well-being and pharmaceutical, just to name a few, is attracting investment from entrepreneurs and large manufacturers. Through the AYUSH sector, India will go to the whole world and the whole world will come to India," he said.
He congratulated prime minister Modi for "giving priority to a relatively neglected area of healthcare," saying "your championship will bring a significant change in the use of traditional medicine".
"PM Modi tells us that the world is one family and that the knowledge of health inherited by one society should benefit all the people. This was the basis of setting up the world's first Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar. I know that It will be a game-changer for the traditional medicine" he added.
According to him, the potential of traditional medicines will be realised if it is given attention globally.
"Medicines derived from natural and herbal products are being used for the treatment of diabetes, hypertension, malaria and many other diseases. Even aspirin is derived from natural sources. And, Yoga is associated with the improvement of cardio-vascular factors," the WHO DG said.
On Tuesday, PM Modi performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the GCTM in Jamnagar and suggested that experts in this field should meet once a year to share their knowledge.
Dr Ghebreyesus on Wednesday told the audience that he has accepted PM Modi's proposal to hold the first such meeting in Gujarat next year when WHO will turn 75.
"Looking forward to the next year, the WHO will turn 75 while India will be celebrating the 75th year of its Independence. PM Modi had proposed that we should jointly hold an annual international meeting on traditional medicine in Gujarat," he said.
The WHO said that Gujarat will become a pilgrimage place for traditional medicine.
"I agreed to the proposal (of PM Modi). It is an important idea because people working in this area should meet regularly. The first meeting will be held the next year. It will be a great way to commemorate our anniversaries, two 75s, of India and WHO," he said.
The three-day Global AYUSH Investment & Innovation Summit will witness five plenary sessions, eight roundtables, six workshops, and two symposiums, with the presence of around 90 eminent speakers and 100 exhibitors. The Summit will help uncover investment potential and give a fillip to innovation, research and development, start-up ecosystem, and the wellness industry, the PMO had stated.