Heather McLeod


Body, Mind, Soul,


4538105618_121x120.jpg 4538105619.jpg

Policy on Integration of TM/CAM in Health Systems

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined three types of health system to describe the degree to which TM/CAM is officially recognized part of the national health system:


Integrative systems: “TM/CAM is officially recognized and incorporated into all areas of health care provision. This means that TM/CAM is included in the relevant country’s national drug policy; providers and products are registered and regulated; TM/CAM therapies are available at hospitals and clinics (both public and private); treatment with TM/CAM is reimbursed under health insurance; relevant research is undertaken; and education in TM/CAM is available.”

Worldwide, only China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam were considered to have attained an integrative system in 2002.


Inclusive systems:  recognize TM/CAM, but have “not yet fully integrated it into all aspects of health care, be this health care delivery, education and training, or regulation. TM/CAM might not be available at all health care levels, health insurance might not cover treatment with TM/CAM, official education in TM/CAM might not be available at university level, and regulation of TM/CAM providers and products might be lacking or only partial. That said, work on policy, regulation, practice, health insurance coverage, research and education will be under way.”


“Countries operating an inclusive system include developing countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Mali which have a national TM/CAM policy, but little or no regulation of TM/CAM products, and developed countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom which do not offer significant university-level education in TM/CAM, but which are making concerted efforts to ensure the quality and safety of TM/CAM. Ultimately, countries operating an inclusive system can be expected to attain an integrative system”.  Australia is listed as one of the countries with an inclusive system. Although New Zealand is not mentioned, it is likely to fall in the same category.


Tolerant systems: “In countries with a tolerant system, the national health care system is based entirely on allopathic medicine, but some TM/CAM practices are tolerated by law.”



The first WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine was held from 7-9 November 2008, in Beijing, China. At that meeting, the "Beijing Declaration" was adopted, promoting the safe and effective use of traditional medicine. It calls on WHO Member States and other stakeholders to take steps to integrate traditional medicine (TM) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) into national health systems.






There have been several Executive Board and World Health Assembly resolutions on traditional medicines.




At the 62nd session of the World Health Assembly in May 2009, Resolution WHA62.13 was passed. It recognizes “traditional medicine as one of the resources of primary health care services that could contribute to improved health outcomes, including those in the Millennium Development Goals”.



The Resolution “URGES Member States, in accordance with national capacities, priorities, relevant legislation and circumstances:


1. to consider adopting and implementing the Beijing Declaration on Traditional Medicine in accordance with national capacities, priorities, relevant legislation and circumstances;


2. to respect, preserve and widely communicate, as appropriate, the knowledge of traditional medicine, treatments and practices, appropriately based on the circumstances in each country, and on evidence of safety, efficacy and quality;


3. to formulate national policies, regulations and standards, as part of comprehensive national health systems, to promote appropriate, safe and effective use of traditional medicine;


4. to consider, where appropriate, including traditional medicine into their national health systems based on national capacities, priorities, relevant legislation and circumstances, and on evidence of safety, efficacy and quality;


5. to further develop traditional medicine based on research and innovation, giving due consideration to the specific actions related to traditional medicine in the implementation of the Global strategy and plan of action on public health, innovation and intellectual property;


6. to consider, where appropriate, establishing systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of traditional medicine practitioners and to assist traditional medicine practitioners to upgrade their knowledge and skill in collaboration with relevant health providers, on the basis of traditions and customs of indigenous peoples and communities;


7. to consider strengthening communication between conventional and traditional medicine providers and, where appropriate, establishing appropriate training programmes with content related to traditional medicine for health professionals, medical students and relevant researchers; and


8. to cooperate with each other in sharing knowledge and practices of traditional medicine and exchanging training programmes on traditional medicine, consistent with national legislation and relevant international obligations.”

World Health Organization (WHO) on

Traditional Medicine

WHO Traditional Medicine Flag of the WHO WHO Congress 2008 "Beijing Declaration" WHO Resolutions on TM Resolution WHA62.13 Worldwide Status WHO Policy

See also pages:

WHO Strategy 2002-05

WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002-2005

Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine