Earlier this month I attended the 1st International Exhibition and Conference on AYUSH and Wellness in New Delhi. Organised by the Ministry of AYUSH, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the four-day event showcased India’s traditional systems of medicines to the world.
Attended by 250 local manufacturers and international delegates from over 70 countries, the objective of the event was to promote the Indian systems of medicine at a global level and create opportunities for strategic partnerships between India and other countries.
The main features of the event were an exhibition of ayurvedic manufacturers from across India, a plenary conference where policy makers, regulators and key international stakeholders met to discuss the opportunities and challenges in the complementary health sector and one on one meeting between local manufacturers and international buyers.
The conference was opened by the Honourable Minister for AYUSH, Mr. Shripad Yesso Naik, who welcomed delegates and acknowledged the number of participants as testament to the growing interest in alternative medicine.
He noted that allopathic medicine has failed to effectively address all the health issues of humanity which is why Ayurveda, with its holistic approach to health, has proven so popular.
He urged more cooperation between all countries to continue this growth, with careful attention being given to sustainable development, multi-dimensional policies, and an evidence based approach to research into the benefits of Ayurveda.
The keynote address at the Conference was delivered by Secretary of the Ministry of AYUSH, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha. He also acknowledged the large number of participants and stressed the Indian Government’s commitment to the continued growth of complementary health He said that herbs and herbal formulations are a major export from India but that a large number of Ayurvedic products are yet to be promoted, which is a huge opportunity for the industry. In pursuit of this goal, he announced that AYUSH have signed research agreements with 28 countries, including the U.S and Germany. He also encouraged and welcomed international students to enrol in the AYUSH courses in India.
The inaugural session was wrapped up by Mr. G. Geetha Krishnan, AYUSH expert at the World Health Organisation. He pointed out that 20% of the world population depend on traditional systems of medicine for their primary health care, while in India this increases to almost 80%. This places a great responsibility on AYUSH, both in caring for its own people and providing an effective health care model to the rest of the world.
He said around $207 trillion is spent on healthcare by the U.S. alone and he suggested more of this money should be channelled to traditional medicine, which is proving to be more effective against a number of non-communicable and lifestyle diseases.
I was invited to the event as a panellist at one of the plenary sessions, “International Regulators Meets”, organised to create a constructive dialogue between international regulators and key stakeholders from across the world. Here I had the opportunity to speak about the changes to the regulation of complementary health products in Australia and New Zealand.
I was honoured to have the opportunity to address this conference and meet with Government officials, growers and manufacturers to discuss my concerns. My belief is that the Indian Government is very keen to encourage this local industry into the international marketplace, not just for its economic benefits but for the benefits the world can experience from this ancient healing science.