Global Use of Traditional Medicine by Women

Author

Professor Gerard Bodeker, Editor-in-Chief of the WHO Global Atlas on Traditional Complementary & Alternative Medicine (TCAM) & University of Oxford Medical School, UK & Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, USA.

Proceeding

1st International Conference & Exhibition on Women's Health & Asian Traditional (WHAT) Medicine

Date

23/8/2005

Keyword

traditional medicine, women's health, alternative medicine, complementary medicine, herbal medicine, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, bone-setting, spiritual therapies

Abstract

The World Health Organisation estimates that the majority of the population of most developing countries use traditional medicine for their everyday healthcare needs. In industrialised societies, complementary or alternative medicine is being used in an integrated way with modern medicine by about half of the population. These trends reflect a major shift in the preferences of health consumers while health policy makers grapple with funding the most appropriate response to public demand, the public and the natural healthcare industry are forging ahead with new The WHO Global Atlas of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine gives an overview on the status of this diverse and expanding field of medicine around the world. It comprises a map volume and a text volume. Through global and regional maps and tables, the map volume provides a visual representation of topics such as the popularity of herbal/traditional medicine, Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, bone-setting, spiritual therapies, and others; national legislation and traditional medicine policy; public financing; legal recognition of traditional medicine practitioners by their area of therapy; education and professional regulation; conventional health-care practitioners who are entitled to provide various traditional, complementary and alternative therapies; and many other aspects. The text volume expands and supplements the map volume through detailed accounts of the development of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine in 23 countries across the world, as well as overviews of the status in each of the six WHO Regions. Through these two volumes, a global picture of the development of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine becomes evident, revealing people's belief in and dependence on different traditional health systems around the world. A key finding from this & related work is that women significantly outnumber men in the use of TCAM and, indeed, women and men use TCAM in differing ways. Furthermore, in many traditional societies, cultural health knowledge is passed on by grandmothers to their daughters and granddaughters, thus making women the cultural purveyors of traditional health knowledge. Taken together these trends reflect a new pattern of use of healthcare and a new quality to healthcare, which will be elaborated in the presentation.