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    Traditional/alternative medicines and the right to health: Key elements for a convention on global health

    The importance of non-conventional medicines (NCMs) has yet to be fully explored nor promoted in the recognition of the right to health, yet people worldwide often turn to NCMs for cure or to mitigate instances of morbidities. The objective of this study is to demonstrate the theoretical framework of the role of NCMs in actualizing the right to health, to identify the potential manifestations of the causes of violations of the right to health in their practice, and to suggest the practice of NCMs that could be included in a Framework Convention on Global Health. NCMs is the fundamental basis of any health system. Societies have been using them for the maintenance of health.

    The knowledge, products and practices brought about through NCMs begin receiving some global acknowledgement during the 1970s under the International Drug Monitoring program of the World Health Organization (WHO). Interest in these medicines heightened with various developments. In 2002, WHO adopted a world strategy to promote the integration of traditional medicines into health systems. This initiative was followed by political mobilization through new training programs in faculties of medicine, centers of research and international meetings. These developments can be witnessed in a global health context highlighted by new health issues that require more effective organization in the health sector. In addition, the emergence of the human rights movements must be taken into consideration as well. Despite increasing literature on clinical, ethical and economic issues regards NCMs, research on the contribution of nCMs to the realization of the right to health is limited.

    The widespread adoption of these medicines in our societies can be attributed to the following three suggested theories:

    • Dissatisfaction of patients who have experienced the downside of conventional medicines, finding them sometimes ineffective, impersonal, overly high-tech, and expensive;
    • Personal control by patients who resort to alternative medicines because they find them less authoritarian and more participative;
    • Philosophic congruence, that is, alternative medicines are attractive because of their compatibility with the spiritual or philosophic world’s representation of health and diseases.

    Other attributing factors to the growing interest in NCMs include technological, economic, cultural and social reasons. The Internet has helped to promote the access to NCMs as well. However, these explanations do not take into consideration the contexts of developing countries. These countries have limited access to the services and programs of modern medicines, hence NCMs may be the only available and accessible health care services. In addition, NCMs plays a significant role in the space of political, economics, security, cultural and legal nature.

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    Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – Medicine under the theme of “Advancing the Medical and Health Sciences: Education, Research & Collaboration” from 23-25 January 2019 in Surabaya, Indonesia.

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