The 9th World Ayurveda Congress (WAC) began with a call for intense cooperation and networking in the country’s most well-known traditional wellness system amid an unprecedented governmental promotion that has won India its first UN outpost anywhere on the world’s health map.
Strong awareness programmes and movements to boost the growth of herbal medicines can lend a fresh impetus to Ayurveda, which has been getting renewed focus since the formation of the Ministry of Ayush in 2014, speakers at WAC noted at the inaugural session of the December 8-11 event in this coastal city.
Goa Chief Minister Pamod Sawant said WAC is being held at a time when Ayurveda is becoming increasingly popular overseas. “It is our duty to propagate the merits of this health system and enable further exploration of its benefits in a wider range within the sector,” he added.
Union Minister Shripad Yesso Naik, noting that the heritage value of Ayurveda goes on to prove its efficacy, said this system goes beyond mere treatment of diseases. “This branch of knowledge gives us idea about the right ways of life. It relies on the principle of customised medicine, often relying on optimal intake of drugs,” said the Minister of State for Tourism and Ports, Shipping and Waterways, at the opening session of the 9th WAC being attended by close to 5,000 registered participants that include more than 400 foreign delegates from 53 countries.
Rajesh Kotecha, Secretary of the Ministry of Ayush, revealed that central government’s budget outlay for traditional medicines including Ayurveda rose five times during the past eight years, during which the manufacture in sector went up by six times. “When Ayush was set up in 2014, the amount earmarked for traditional wellness systems was Rs 691 crore. Today, it stands at Rs 3,600 crore,” he pointed out. “Similarly, a CII study put the value of production in the sector at Rs 3 billion dollars, which went on to rise to 18 billion dollars.”
In the summer of 2020, when the pandemic gave the world its worst health scare in recent times, India found its traditional medicines capable of resisting the new coronavirus. “Our Covid management efforts worked well, prompting as many as 90 per cent of the country’s population to use alternative drugs,” said Shri Kotecha at the WAC, being organised by the World Ayurveda Foundation, an initiative of Vijnana Bharati, with the support of the Union Ministry of Ayush and the Government of Goa.
Further, the coming up of Ayush’s Global Centre for Traditional Medicines at Jamnagar (Gujarat) in collaboration with the World Health Organisation integrates technological advancements and evidence-based research, earning India’s alternative systems their pioneering UN recognition. “Within the country, this institution will enjoy a status on par with IITs, IIMs or AIIMS,” the top bureaucrat said.
The other speakers at the inaugural ceremony included Punjab Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Medical Education & Research Chetan Singh Jouramajra, Uttar Pradesh Minister of State for Ayush Daya Shankar Mishra, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, Vijnana Bharati Mentor Sunil Ambekar, Organising Secretary Praveen Ramadas, WAC Secretary-General Anup Thakkar.
WAC Managing Trustee Jayaprakash Narayan welcomed the gathering, while its Trustee Ranjit Puranik proposed thanks.
The 9th WAC, which seeks to chart out a roadmap leading to globalisation of Ayurveda and harness its potential as a reliable, scientific and prevention-oriented healthcare system, is being attended by the WHO for the first time. The four-day event features six plenary sessions and five concurrent sessions besides 20 associate events such as International Delegates Assembly, WHO event on Traditional Medicines, and Guru-Shishya Meet. These are besides 3,800 abstracts for oral, e-book and poster presentations.
The event is also hosting a buyer-seller meet displaying quality products and services from leading Ayurvedic drug manufactures and wellness institutions such as Sree Dhootapapeshwar Limited, Arya Vaidya Sala, Madhavbaug, Charak, Baidyanath, Dabur, Himalaya, Jiva Ayurveda, Maharishi Ayurveda, Kerala Ayurveda, Emami, Nirogstreet, Nagarjuna Herbal Concentrate, Sandu Pharmaceuticals, Sri Sri Tattwa, SKM Siddha, Somatheeram, Vaidyaratnam and Sri Sri Ayurveda. In addition is the presence of leading brands representing Ayurveda hospitals including Vaidyaranthnam, Sreedhareeyam and AIMS.
Launched in 2002, WAC provides a global platform for all the stakeholders, including industry leaders, practitioners, traditional healers, educationists, students, medicine manufacturers, growers of medicinal plants and marketing strategists, for networking and engaging in intellectual exchange to strengthen the Ayurveda sector, envision its future, and facilitate interaction between professionals and consumers to boost Ayurveda commerce.