Building Int’l Cooperation in Traditional Medicine

Building Int’l Cooperation  in Traditional MedicineBuilding Int’l Cooperation  in Traditional Medicine

Austrian students will arrive in Iran for educational courses on Iranian traditional medicine at the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS), said Amir Hooman Kazemi, president of Traditional Medicine Faculty at TUMS and international affairs advisor at the Health Ministry’s Traditional Medicine Office.

“The students will take up the courses following a MoU signed between the traditional medicine faculties of Austria and the TUMS (last October) to undertake joint measures in traditional medicine,” he said, IRNA reported.

As per the agreement, researchers, professors and students are to be sent to Iran to take part in workshops and training courses in traditional medicine.

Scientists and researchers as well as state officials have been paying more attention to traditional medicine in the past two decades.

Kazemi, who is a member of the World Federation of Acupuncture presiding board, said over the last year, the Health Ministry prioritized plans to expand international cooperation with foreign educational centers. Austria is one of several countries, including China, South Korea, and Spain, with which Iran has held joint meetings in this regard over the past few months.

Iranian traditional medicine dates back more than 3,000 years. It has been used since ancient times and Persian polymath Avicenna’s ‘Book of Healing’ and the ‘Canon of Medicine’ are the most authoritative sources in this field. 

Europeans now are showing an inclination towards traditional medical practices and have incorporated herbal medicine in their healthcare system.

Currently, there are 70 accredited traditional medicine specialists in the country, more than half of whom work at medical science universities. The rest are involved in treatment procedures at traditional medicine centers affiliated to universities. 

Till recently, individuals practicing traditional medicine or active in the field were doing so without a qualifying process or official certification. 

To rectify the situation, the Iranian Traditional Medicine Association implemented a program to oversee and manage their activities whereby traditional medicine practitioners could apply for and be granted practice permits, as per a directive of the Health Ministry to the association to initiate a protocol that would enable issuing permits and accreditation to the discipline’s practitioners who number around 5000-6,000.

There are 20 official traditional medicine centers in Iranian universities of medical sciences which are regulated by the Health Ministry.

“We will start teacher exchange programs with Spain and Austria in the upcoming months, and have already begun cooperation with the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and one in South Korea,” said Kazemi.

  Regional Collaboration 

The ministry also plans to boost collaboration with regional states such as Tajikistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan -- nations that share cultural commonalities with Iran.

“A number of topics in Iranian traditional medicine, namely Avicenna’s principles of traditional medicine and native herbal remedies are of high interest to foreigners,” Kazemi said, stressing that Iran has vast potential for growth since it began to integrate traditional medicine into the modern healthcare system only six years ago, while China and India have been doing so for the past 60 years.

A positive approach towards making traditional medicine an academic and complementary discipline was born in the 1980s across the world, and hundreds of universities, schools, institutes, and colleges worldwide have since offered services in education, research, and medicine in the field.

A symposium on the ‘Status of Traditional Medicine in Iran and Spain’ was held recently at the Traditional Medicine Faculty at TUMS attended by officials from the Spanish University of Santiago de Compostela.

“The university has held academic courses in the discipline for over 20 years and its experience could be of great use to Iran. All such interactions are in fact aimed at promoting Iranian traditional medicine as well as globalizing it,” he said.

Iran is placed 60th in the world in terms of producing herbal plants, said head of the Iranian Medicinal Plants Society Mohammad Baqer Rezaei, on Monday.

“We are determined to reach the 12th place as per the 2025 Vision Plan,” he said.

Of the 8,200 species of medicinal plants identified across the world, 2,300 are found in Iran, most of which have the potential to be used in medicine and medicinal supplements.