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On this 7th April when the world will be celebrating World Health Day, India would be taking a giant leap in the ground of health of her people. The theme for this world health day is ‘Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere’ has great significance for a nation like us as it sits on the conviction that health is a human right and not a privilege.

India and UHC

In our country health was never recognised as a right and if it did then denial was a norm for many. But this year with announcing of Ayushman Bharat and National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) aimed to provide both assurance and insurance of health, the Government has made its intentions clear. Moreover, the WHO has said that each country will approach Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in different ways: there is no one size fits all thing - which opens up our existing avenues of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) where we are a way ahead than most of the nations.

WHO AND T&CM : Odds in our favour

The Delhi Declaration of WHO states that Traditional medicine and traditional practitioners have substantial potential to contribute in improving health outcomes in various countries of the world - which is the very idea behind UHC. The declaration also advocates the promotion of UHC by integrating T&CM services and self-health care into national health systems. We are already in a situation of making this sort of integration as we have a separate Ministry of AYUSH which can take issues like this to the national forums.

Possibility and Opportunity

According to the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative medicine, there is an emerging consensus that inclusion of T&CM services might help to empower people to be proactive to take charge of their health and health system. Dr. Nitika Kohli, a practitioner based at Delhi says ‘‘with a rich background of AYUSH system in our country along with WHO supporting Traditional and Complimentary medicine, we have a positive and conducive environment to show the world our potential”

Harnessing our potential

The best stroke AYUSH can make is in the field of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The journal also states that the world morbidity statistics indicate an urgent need for prevention and control of NCDs - the most important targets of UHC. Efforts are continuously being made in this direction both by the Government and industries, an example being CSIR’s anti-diabetic drug - BGR-34 which is changing the way we live with diabetes.  Another example in segment pertaining to NCDs where we are pushed to the wall is Chronic kidney disease and for this Aimil Pharmaceuticals (I) Limited has come up with Neeri KFT which is a proving to be a new hope for Chronic kidney disease patients. Dr, Kohli further says “drugs like these are on the path of WHO’s Delhi Declaration which states that traditional medicines of proven quality, safety and efficacy contributes to the goal of ensuring that all people have access to care - which is the soul of this World Health Day theme”.

Moving ahead

The key here for us as a nation is to look ahead and carry forward the momentum which we have got in arena of UHC - the core theme of this world health day through Traditional & Complementary Medicine and emerge out as a leader across the globe in terms of health as a right and more importantly a non-deniable right because it is our only chance to people's and nation’s health and well-being.