In matters of health it has often been found easier to break with the past than to try to live with it. And yet, for a large section of the world's population, what is needed is to build on what they have already and bring it up to date.
This is the reason why the World Health Organization initiated the Traditional Medicine Programme some years ago, to help Member States to make a critical examination of their traditional medicine systems and practices and to see what should be retained and adapted to today's needs and what should be discarded as useless or patently harmful.
One country, the People's Republic of China, has done precisely this in combining traditional and modern medicine in the health services. The Inter-Regional Seminar that is the subject of this report was the first of its kind. It provided an opportunity for the countries represented to share China's experience in this endeavour.
Such exchanges can only be beneficial in that they bring this subject to the discerning but critical attention of those responsible for developing policies for primary health care in their countries. They may also encourage those whose health services are almost entirely based on modern Western medicine to explore the advantages that certain traditional treatments may offer.