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Essential medicines and health products

"Beijing declaration"

The Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China

The key outcome of the Congress was the "Beijing Declaration", which identified common aims and principles reached by participants at the Congress. The preparation of the declaration was structured. Prior to the Congress, the first draft was sent out, and comments were gathered and modifications made accordingly. A second draft was sent to participants before the Congress. During the Congress, an ad hoc drafting team was created to discuss and harmonize the comments submitted to WHO prior to the Congress and to enable the Declaration to be adopted during by the Congress.

During the final session of the International Forum, chaired by the Minister of Health of the Union of Myanmar, Congress delegates adopted the Beijing Declaration. In addition to preamble text noting a number of related initiatives and reflecting the importance of national contexts with regard to capacity, priorities and relevant legislation, the declaration identified the following six articles:

  • The knowledge of traditional medicines, treatments and practices should be respected, preserved, promoted and communicated widely and appropriately based on the circumstances in each country;
  • Governments have a responsibility for the health of their people and should formulate national policies, regulations and standards, as part of comprehensive national health systems to ensure appropriate, safe and effective use of traditional medicine;
  • Recognizing the progress of many governments to date in integrating traditional medicine into their national health system, we call on those who have not yet done so to take action;
  • Traditional medicine should be further developed based on research and innovation in line with the “Global Strategy and Plan of Action on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property” adopted at the 61st World Health Assembly in 2008.
  • Governments, international organisations and other stakeholders should collaborate in implementing the global strategy and plan of action;
  • Governments should establish systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of traditional medicine practitioners. Traditional medicine practitioners should upgrade their knowledge and skills based on national requirements; and
  • The communication between conventional and traditional medicine providers should be strengthened and appropriate training programmes be established for health professionals, medical students and relevant researchers.

The Beijing Declaration will serve to promote the safe and effective use of traditional medicine, and to call on WHO Member States and other stakeholders to take steps to integrate TM/CAM into national health systems.

During the closing of the International Forum, Dr Carissa Etienne, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services said, "This is a landmark declaration, after a landmark Congress."

Beijing Declaration
Congress partners

Adopted by the WHO Congress on Traditional Medicine,
Beijing, China,
8 November 2008