THE ESTABLISHMENT OF 

" THE BIMSTEC NETWORK OF NATIONAL CENTERS OF COORDINATION

IN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE"

AND FRAMEWORK OF COOPERATION

Introduction

BIMSTEC or "Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation" was set up to foster socioeconomic cooperation among member countries, namely, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. At the 1st BIMSTEC summit in Thailand in July 2003, the Leaders agreed to expand BIMSTEC cooperation in the areas of public health and the protection of biodiversity and traditional knowledge, in particular traditional medicine. In addition, during the Summit Retreat, the leaders also agreed to set up a network of national centers of excellence to promote traditional medicine and generic drugs for the poor.

The initiative made by the Leaders at the 1st Summit was deemed appropriate as BIMSTEC member countries have their own deep-rooted systems of traditional medicine that have played a role as a means of health care of their people throughout the countries' history until now. In addition, BIMSTEC countries are blessed with an abundance of variety of medicinal plants and other natural products. Hence, in order to strengthen our traditional medicine systems to better serve our people, member countries should ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of the medical practices and herbal medicinal products and improve various systems related to traditional medicine, namely, provision of service, education and training, and regulation. This can be facilitated by setting up the "BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine" to promote the sharing of experience and scientific information and other forms of cooperation among member countries.

General Objectives

This document notifies the establishment of the BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine and identifies the National Center of Coordination in traditional medicine in each member country. This document also provides the framework of cooperation of the BIMSTEC Networks of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine within which detailed proposals for programs of cooperation in identified areas of cooperation and plans of action are to be jointly considered later by the member countries.

Structure of BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine

"BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine" constitutes the following Ministry/Department/Institute of the member countries which serve as the National Center of Coordination in Traditional Medicine in their countries namely: -

1. The People's Republic of Bangladesh - Department of Homeo and Traditional Medicine, Directorate General of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

2. The Kingdom of Bhutan - Institute of Traditional Medicine Services, Department of Medical Services, Ministry of Health.

3. The Republic of India - Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

4. The Union of Myanmar - Department of Traditional Medicine, Ministry of Health.

5. The Kingdom of Nepal - Department of Ayurveda, Ministry of Health and Population.

6. The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka - Ministry of Indegenous Medicine.

7. The Kingdom of Thailand - Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine, Ministry of Public Health.

The National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine of member shall appoint the National Committees comprising of various institutes/offices concerned to help set up, carry out and facilitate programs of BIMSTEC cooperation in traditional medicine within their countries.

The Head/President and a committee member of the National Committee of each member country shall represent the National Center of Coordination in the Joint Committee of the Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine.

As Thailand is the lead country in the Public Health Sector of BIMSTEC Cooperation, the Department for Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine (DTAM) shall serve as the Secretariat office of the Network and the Joint Committee.

Areas of Cooperation

BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine shall cooperate in the following areas of traditional medicine development: -

  1. Traditional Medicine knowledge management
  2. Human Resource development
  3. Integration and provision of traditional medicine service in the national health system
  4. Herbal medicinal product development
  5. Regulatory issues regarding practitioners and products
  6. Protection of traditional medicine knowledge
  7. Education and Training in traditional medicine
  8. Research and development in traditional medicine.

Forms of Cooperation

BIMSTEC Network of National Centers of Coordination in Traditional Medicine shall conduct cooperation in traditional medicine in the following forms: -

  1.  Exchange of information on traditional medicine e.g textbooks of traditional medicine, professional training curricula, National Pharmacopoeia, Materia Medica, Flora, related laws and regulations, protection of traditional medicine knowledge
  2.  Exchange of traditional medicine practitioners/specialists and study groups
  3. Jointly conducted symposia and technical meets as may deem essential
  4. Jointly conducted scientific research on traditional medicine as may deem essential
  5. Survey and documentation of medicinal plants and herbs in BIMSTEC countries
  6. Harmonization of Pharmacopoeia in BIMSTEC countries
  7. Harmonization of education and training in traditional medicine in BIMSTEC countries
  8. Documentation of common traditional health care remedies in BIMSTEC countries
  9. Exchange of R&D experience, practitioners and trade
  10. Promotion of private and public partnership in traditional medicine development

Implementation

1. The Network, through the Joint Committee, shall negotiate and agree to a common set of priorities in defining a program of cooperation. Initial priorities could include: -

      1.1 Sharing of information on various aspects of traditional medicine.

      1.2 Exchange of experts.

      1.3 Harmonization of Pharmacopoeia in BIMSTEC countries.

      1.4 Harmonization of education and training in traditional medicine in BIMSTEC countries.

      1.5 Survey and documentation of medicinal plants and herbs in BIMSTEC countries.

      1.6 Documentation of common traditional health care remedies in BIMSTEC countries.

2. The Network, through the Joint Committee, shall develop Plans of Action for a period of 2 years and to coordinate the implementation of collaborative activities of the plans.

3. The Joint Committee shall meet regularly on the annual basis to keep up with the progress of collaborative programs of BIMSTEC cooperation in traditional medicine.

4. The Network shall also collaborate in the programs on traditional medicine of Southeast Asian Regional Office (SEARO) of the World Health Organization.

Resource

For the annual meeting of the Joint Committee or for the collaborative programs on traditional medicine, the sending countries shall be responsible for the travel expense to and from the capital of the receiving country and per diem of their delegates. The receiving country shall cover the local expense for food, accommodation and local transportation of all delegates for the period of the meeting or the collaborative program.