Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, announced that the government would soon set up a separate Central Drug Controller for traditional medicines with a view to ensuring quality in production standards.
Inaugurating the first ‘Arogya Expo’ organised in New Delhi by the Ministry’s AYUSH Department as part of the World Ayurveda Congress, Vardhan said that it was a pity that India’s experience and strengths in traditional medicine have not been translated into market shares in the global traditional medicines market.
“Call it whatever—Ayurvedic medicines, herbal medicines or traditional medicines –the global market is estimated at about US$100 billion today. India’s share in this is negligible because quality standards are not maintained to international specifications. The government has decided to address this lacuna,” he said.
The institutionalisation of a regulatory authority backed up by central and state laboratories would ensure for traditional and indigenous medicine pride of place in mainstream healthcare, the minister said.
Vardhan pointed out that his respect for Ayurveda does not sprint from emotions but scientific understanding. He said, “In this age no single stream of medicine is supreme. This is the age of holistic medicine and I wish to give India an edge in this.”
With the world’s disease burden in non-communicable diseases growing, there is a new mindset in favour of holistic treatment. Also, with the explosion of information on the Internet, people are getting aware of Ayurveda’s approach of treating each human body as unique, the minister further said.
He regretted that India had ‘missed the bus’ in terms of capitalising on her headstart in the traditional medicines sector. “It is a pity that China has captured such a huge share of the world market whereas India’s presence is non-existent. We are determined to develop Brand India through Ayurveda.”
Vardhan said that with the launch of the National AYUSH Mission, the government will focus in detail on building up a brand value for Ayurvedic drugs manufactured in the country.
The employment potential will be manifold as the scope for upstream and downstream expansion is considerable. The government is confident that a combination of incentives and regulation would help make up for the lost time, the minister added.
Accordingly, the ministry has made provision for financial support to be provided to traditional drugs manufacturing companies to enhance their quality lines and help them meet global standards. Drug testing laboratories will be set up at the state level in due course and regulatory arrangements are also proposed there.
The Arogya Expo, the first to be organised by the government, is set to become the largest industrial fair involving stakeholders in the AYUSH sector. Trade associations from all over the world are expected to attend. The event offers opportunities for B2B interface. Facilities for medical check-up to the public have also been opened.
Dr Vardhan said that special attention has been given to showcase the small sector manufacturers.