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Mint Health Summit: India developing global standards for traditional medicines

New Delhi: India is developing international standards for its traditional system of medicines, aiming to gain global recognition and market access to 150 countries, secretary, ministry of Ayush, Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha said on Wednesday.

Speaking at the seventh edition of Mint Healthcare Summit, Kotecha said the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has already published 50 standards for Ayush medicines, which are now being converted to ISO standards.

“We were sending our products across the globe but certain drug regulators asked us to specify standards for our products and were rejecting its use even as supplements ,” the secretary said. “So, we are working with BIS and it has already published 50 such standards which we are willing to convert to ISO standards. Once that happens, our products would be allowed in more than 150 countries.”

The ministry, through BIS, is currently setting up a technical committee for Ayush within ISO. The government is also encouraging all Ayush facilities to obtain National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) accreditation and for labs to obtain National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) accreditation. The Ayush educational institutes are also being promoted to obtain National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) accreditation, the secretary said.

About 153 Ayush hospitals and 40 Panchakarma clinics have already got such accreditation.

The traditional system of medicines is a major contributor to India’s GDP, with Ayush medicines and services generating $43.4 billion in revenue. The government aims to increase the contribution of this system of medicine to 5% of GDP by 2047 from 1% currently.

Ayush product and services exports stood at $ 1.54 billion ( 114 billion) in 2021. “We are in touch with department of revenue to get the right HSN code for traditional Indian medicines. Once that happens, our exports numbers would already show an increase and with other developments, the exports are set to rise manifolds in coming years,” Kotecha said.

According to industry estimates, Ayush exports are already valued at over $6.5 billion, but there has been a problem with the generic HSN code categorization. As part of a global outreach plan, the Ministry of Ayush has signed MoUs with foreign partner nations. Currently, there are 24 country-to-country level MoUs, 46 institute-to-institute level (research) MoUs, and 15 academic chair-level MoUs. Additionally, there are 39 Ayush Information Cells located in 34 countries.

Kotecha said the government has stepped up efforts to expand the adoption of Ayush medicines through evidence-based studies.

Under the National Ayush Mission, a total of 8,132 Ayush Health & Wellness Centers have been operationalized, catering to 8.42 crore beneficiaries in 2022. Additionally, 137 units have been supported for the establishment of Integrated Ayush hospitals, and 113 Ayush Educational Institutions have been upgraded. The number of Ayush hospitals has increased to 315, while the number of Ayush dispensaries has risen to 5,023. 

Kotecha also said that ministry of Ayush is also collaborating with WHO for setting up the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in India. 

“This is very significant because it first UN office established in any developing country. Before that, these offices were only in developed countries. Because of this coming to India, we are able to provide leadership to the world in the area of traditional medicines. A lot of work is happening with WHO to promote Ayurveda, Unani etc. and the collaboration is also allowing use of traditional system also among modern medicine practitioners,” the secretary said.

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Updated: 29 Nov 2023, 06:56 PM IST

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