Global traditional medicine market scenario
The use of herbal and traditional medicines can be dated back more than 5,000 years. As the world developed, modern medicine started gaining traction with newer inventions and technology gaining popularity. Although reliance on traditional medicine started decreasing, many institutions and governments kept the industry alive and also encouraged research and growth. With increasing awareness of the importance and long-term benefits of traditional herbal medicines, the global traditional medicine industry has started growing rapidly, resulting in a rise in demand and use of herbal products.
In 2020, the global market for herbal medicine was estimated to be around US$ 185 billion. The industry is estimated to expand at a CAGR of around 11% to around US$ 430 billion by 2028.
Global Herbal Medicine Market (US$ billion)
Source: Fortune Business Insights
India is one of the biggest contributors to the global traditional and herbal medicine industry and knowledge base. The country has a rich history of traditional medicines comprising six systems: Unani, Siddha, Homeopathy, Yoga, Ayurveda and Naturopathy. Ayurveda in India is more than 5,000 years old and is the most ancient and widely practiced traditional medicine system around the world.
Between April 2021-January 2022, India exported about 104,511 tonnes of Ayush medicines. During 2020-21, India’s exports of Ayush and herbal products were around US$ 540 million, up 27% from the previous year. Gujarat and Maharashtra were the two largest contributors to the country’s Ayush and herbal products exports, making up about 46% and 13% of the total exports during FY21, respectively.
WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM)
In April 2022, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, laid the foundation stone for the WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine (GCTM) in Jamnagar, Gujarat. The centre is a collaborative project of the Ministry of Ayush of India and the World Health Organization (WHO) and is the only centre for traditional medicine in the world. The ceremony was founded by the Prime Minister of Mauritius Mr. Pravind Kumar Jagnauth and the Director-General of WHO, Mr. Tedros Ghebreyesus.
GCTM has been established with a vision to engage and benefit the world as well as catalyse ancient wisdom and modern science for the health of the people and the planet.
Goals of WHO GCTM
Purpose and objectives of the centre
As per WHO, around 80% of the world’s population is estimated to be using traditional medicines such as herbal medicines, yoga, acupuncture, and indigenous therapy. Out of the 194 WHO Member States, 170 reported the use of traditional medicine and the governments of these states requested WHO for evidence and research data to inform policies, standards and regulatory frameworks for safe, cost-effective and equitable use. The primary objective of GCTM is to cater to the knowledge needs of the world.
Some of the other objectives of GCTM are:
Strategic focus areas of WHO GCTM
GCTM will be focusing on 4 main strategic areas.
Under the evidence and learning strategy, the centre will work towards evidence synthesis and reviews with the WHO Science Division and provide link with the WHO Academy for traditional medicine courses. Data and analytics strategy has been formulated for updating global surveys on traditional medicines, policies, education and practices. Data on biodiversity, social-cultural heritage, scientific advances and sustainability consideration will be covered under the sustainability and equity strategy. In order to maximise the use of technology, the centre will be focusing on innovation and technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) to map traditional medicine trends, innovations, patents, and develop and update apps, among others.
India is the lead investor in the WHO GCTM project. To support the establishment, infrastructure and operations of the centre, the country will be contributing Rs. 1,910 crore (US$ 250 million). This will include a 35-acre land in Jamnagar, Gujarat, and an interim office. In addition, the country will also support GCTM operational cost with a 10-year commitment. The centre would be an accessible, eco-friendly and interactive facility showcasing the historical and modern advances in traditional medicines.
India is the largest exporter of medicinal plants, plant drugs and value-added drugs in the world. The country exports about US$ 22 billion worth of medicines annually. Indian products account for 30% of the total volume and 10% of the value of the US generics market. It plays a vital role in the global vaccine supply, catering to about half the global demand. During the Covid pandemic, the country supplied over 180 million vaccines to more than 50 countries in the world.
Traditional Medicine Growth Prospects
To strengthen Ayurvedic and other traditional medicines and increase exports, Pharmacopoeia Commission for Indian Medicine and Homeopathy (PCIM&H) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with American Herbal Pharmacopoeia of the US. By developing standards and promotion, the traditional medicine industry is expected to gain more exposure in global markets.
As per WHO, about 10-15% of the population in developed countries uses herbal products. Due to the pandemic-induced increasing health concerns globally, demand for traditional herbal medicines and ingredients and immunity booster products is expected to increase further. One of the biggest users of natural ingredients, the skincare industry, is expected to expand at a CAGR of 5.9% between 2021 and 2027 and the global pharmaceutical industry is also expected to witness a CAGR of more than 11% until 2028. Traditional herbs, natural ingredients and traditional eastern medicines have a lot of room for growth and with increasing awareness, the industry is estimated to witness an uptrend in demand ahead.