The use of traditional medicine (TM) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing throughout the world. Already, it accounts for a major part of the health care provided worldwide. In low- and middle- income countries, up to 80% of the population may rely on TM for their primary health care needs (2). In many high-income countries CAM utilization is becoming increasingly popular, with up to 65% of the population reporting that they have used this form of medicine (2,4).
In response to the challenges posed by the widespread use of TM/CAM, WHO has developed the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy: 2002-2005. The Strategy has four major objectives: (i) framing policy; (ii) ensuring safety, efficacy and quality; (iii) enhancing access; (iv) promoting proper use of TM/CAM. While these guidelines focus on the issue of proper use of TM/CAM, a number of WHO publications explore the other areas (see Annex V).
This document adopts the definitions of TM and CAM that have been established by WHO (see glossary).