The second International Traditional and Complementary Medicine Congress kicked off in Istanbul Wednesday. Held under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency, the event, jointly organized by the Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO), brought this emerging branch of modern medicine to the fore. Some 2,200 participants attend the four-day congress, including scientists and health ministers from 18 countries.
This year's event focuses on traditional and complementary therapies in chronic diseases and is entitled Right Dosage, Proper Usage. Participants will give presentations on traditional and complementary therapies and attend workshops. Presentations will be compiled for medical journals and organizers aim to create resources for the field through the congress and promote "Anatolian medicine" - the ancient medical practices of Turkey, which boasts a rich legacy of traditional medicine.
Addressing the event, first lady Emine Erdoğan, who serves as honorary president of the congress, said there was a growing demand in the world for traditional and complementary medicine. She noted that Turkey was "a medicine cabinet" for physical and mental diseases and they needed a private-public partnership (PPP) model to promote its legacy of traditional medicine.
"We are pleased that traditional and complementary medicine has found a scientific basis as it is of vital importance that the traditional medicine practices should be applied only by certified people in modern hospitals. There is a misconception that views these practices as outdated but I believe scientific efforts like this congress would help in ending the exploitation of this branch by people without expertise on the field," Erdoğan said.
Making a keynote speech at the event, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said he believed that traditional and complementary medicine blended with contemporary medicine would help preventive approaches to diseases and called physicians to endorse the field to prevent its exploitation. "Almost every nation in the world has traditional approaches for curing and preventing diseases, and some are evidence-based approaches within the contemporary scientific paradigm. Traditional medicine was once dismissed as orthodox medicine and had limited application until the 1990s. Today, up to 80 percent of the people in the world resort to complementary medicine, and integrated medicine applications combining modern medicine with traditional and complementary medicine find use in Western countries. The WHO's 2014-2023 strategy on the issue prioritizes their integration in modern medicine," Koca said.
The health minister noted that the branch, which was outside the knowledge and control of the Turkish medical community, was taken under control of the Health Ministry in 2011, and they issued a regulation on the branch five years ago. He added that they issued a new regulation recently for clinical research in traditional and complementary medicine for an evidence-based approach, efficient use of the branch and advancing academic studies on traditional and complementary medicine.
"We authorize only physicians who have studied the field and are certified to work and train in 15 different types of traditional and complementary medicine, from acupuncture to reflexology, from musical therapy to homeopathy," he said. Turkey currently hosts traditional and complementary medicine application centers in 56 hospitals, and those centers focus on research and development (R&D) and education in the field. Minister Koca said they have given certificates to 3,350 physicians so far to work in the field.
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