WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy: 2002-2005
(2002; 70 pages) [French] [Spanish] View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentAcronyms, abbreviations and WHO Regions
Close this folderKey points: WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002 - 2005
View the documentWhat is traditional medicine?
View the documentWidespread and growing use
View the documentWhy such broad use?
View the documentUncritical enthusiasm versus uninformed scepticism
View the documentChallenges in developing TM/CAM potential
View the documentThe current role of WHO
View the documentFramework for action
View the documentStrategy implementation
Open this folder and view contentsChapter One: Global review
Open this folder and view contentsChapter Two: Challenges
Open this folder and view contentsChapter Three: The current role of WHO
Open this folder and view contentsChapter Four: International and national resources for traditional medicine
Open this folder and view contentsChapter Five: Strategy and plan of action 2002 - 2005
View the documentAnnex One: List of WHO Collaborating Centres for Traditional Medicine
Open this folder and view contentsAnnex Two: Selected WHO publications and documents on traditional medicine
View the documentReferences
View the documentBack Cover

Why such broad use?

Accessible and affordable in developing countries

In developing countries, broad use of TM is often attributable to its accessibility and affordability. In Uganda, for instance, the ratio of TM practitionersc to population is between 1:200 and 1:400. This contrasts starkly with the availability of allopathic practitioners, for which the ratio is typically 1:20 000 or less. Moreover, distribution of such personnel may be uneven, with most being found in cities or other urban areas, and therefore difficult for rural populations to access. TM is sometimes also the only affordable source of health care - especially for the world's poorest patients. In Ghana, Kenya and Mali, research has shown that a course of pyrimethamine/sulfadoxine antimalarials can cost several dollars. Yet per capita out-of-pocket health expenditure in Ghana and Kenya amounts to only around US$ 6 per year. Conversely, herbal medicines for treating malaria are consider-ably cheaper and may sometimes even be paid for in kind and/or according to the "wealth" of the client.

c TM practitioners are generally understood to be traditional healers, bone setters, herbalists, etc. TM providers include both TM practitioners and allopathic medicine professionals such as doctors, dentists and nurses who provide TM/CAM therapies to their patients - e.g. many medical doctors also use acupuncture to treat their patients.

TM is also highly popular in many developing countries because it is firmly embedded within wider belief systems.

An alternative approach to health care in developed countries

In many developed countries popular use of CAM is fuelled by concern about the adverse effects of chemical drugs, questioning of the approaches and assumptions of allopathic medicine, and greater public access to health information.

At the same time, longer life expectancy has brought with it increased risks of developing chronic, debilitating diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and mental disorders. For many patients, CAM appears to offer gentler means of managing such diseases than does allopathic medicine.

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