Various types of traditional medicine (TM) and medical practices referred to as complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), have been increasingly used in both developing and developed countries. One of the major components of the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy is to promote the integration of TM and CAM into national health care systems where appropriate. Development of national policy and regulations are an essential indicator of the level of integration of such medicine within a national health care system.
The use of medicinal plants is the most common form of traditional medication worldwide. Regulation of herbal medicines is a key means of ensuring safety, efficacy and quality of herbal medicinal products. WHO has been receiving an increasing number of requests from governments for guidance on how to regulate herbal medicines.
During the last four years, many countries have established, or initiated the process of establishing national regulations regarding herbal medicines. WHO has been conducting a global survey on national policy on traditional medicine and on the regulation of herbal medicines; aiming to:
Collect updated and comprehensive information on TM/CAM policies and regulations of herbal medicines
Clarify the current situation, in each country, on the TM/CAM national policies and regulation of herbal medicines, and their major challenges on these particular area
Identify the specific needs on capacity building for TM/CAM policy development including establishment of regulations of herbal medicines, and the type of direct support WHO should provide to Member States
Monitor the impact of the WHO Strategy for Traditional Medicine in relation to present national policy and regulation on TM/CAM/herbal medicines.