Congratulatory Remarks of Dr Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, the 16th International Congress on Oriental Medicine

Seoul, Republic of Korea
15 September 2012

The Honourable Dr Rim Chemin, Minister of Health and Welfare,

Distinguished guests, experts and researchers,

Ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning and congratulations on the successful opening of the 16th International Congress on Oriental Medicine.

This congress offers an important platform for dialogue among researchers, scholars and practitioners of traditional medicine.

Here they can share information and practices to develop safe and effective quality traditional medicine.

As you know, the World Health Organization sees health as a fundamental human right.

Universality and equity, scientific soundness and community participation are guiding principles in our quest to improve the health and lives of people.

With these principles in mind, Member States endorsed The Regional Strategy for Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific (2011–2020) at last October's session of the Regional Committee in Manila.

WHO supports quality evidence-based and safe traditional medicine as a means of contributing to universal coverage.

Everyone should have access to needed health services, including traditional medicine.

Traditional medicine plays a significant role in health care in many countries.

Hundreds of millions of people in both cities and small towns visit traditional doctors or healers and use traditional medicinal products regularly.

In China, for example, more than nine out of 10 people use traditional medicine.

In the Republic of Korea, more than eight out of 10 people do the same. Even in Australia and Viet Nam, it is estimated that more than half of the people use traditional medicine.

Traditional medicine practices may look different in different countries, but these services remain integral to the health of the population.

For this reason, it is important to create conditions so that traditional medicine can be used safely and effectively.

Research and innovation play a key role in guaranteeing that traditional medicine is a safe and high-quality part of the overall health system.

To realize all its benefits, researchers and educators — as well as governments and Western and traditional medicine providers — must share discoveries and evidence to promote traditional medicine.

The new information, research findings and evidence that you will share over the next two days is an important and valuable resource to further strengthen the role of traditional medicine and its contribution to healthy societies.

The World Health Organization welcomes the opportunity to share information and collaborate more with scholars, researchers and traditional medicine providers in support of scientifically sound, evidence-based traditional medicine.

As the Regional Director, I am pleased to see such productive international solidarity and committed to helping foster even greater collaboration going forward.

I wish you all great success in this congress.

Thank you.