Traditional medicines

The objectives of the regional traditional medicine (TM) programme are to support countries in:

  • Including TM/herbal medicine (HM) in national health care systems, as appropriate, by developing and implementing national TM and herbal medicine (HM) policies and programmes.
  • Promoting the safety, efficacy and quality of TM/HM by expanding the knowledge-base on TM/HM, and by providing guidance on regulatory and quality assurance standards.
  • Increasing the availability and affordability of TM/HM, as appropriate, with an emphasis on access to those who depend on them either by choice or necessity.
  • Promoting therapeutically sound use of appropriate TM/HM by providers and consumers; and
  • Promoting and upgrading the knowledge and skill of TM/HM providers to ensure patient safety.


  • Preparation of monographs/training manuals on the use of herbal medicine in Primary Health Care (PHC) by Member States and review them technically for publication.
  • Implementation of recommendations of the WHO meetings on traditional/herbal medicine, specifically in:(A) Intra-country cooperation in sharing information on the use of herbal medicines in primary health care. (B) Compiling commonly used medicinal plants as herbal remedies in PHC based on their long tradition of use in countries of the SEA Region.
  • Further development of SEARO website on herbal medicine (HerbalNet) for exchange of information on the use of herbal medicines in PHC and sharing of evidence-based information on efficacy, safety and/or quality of herbal remedies that are used for PHC.
  • Promoting/assisting joint activities of the network of traditional medicine institutes in the SEA Region.
  • Further assisting Member States in the implementation of activities in the biennial work plans on traditional medicine.


  • National policies on access, quality and use of traditional medical products and technologies advocated and supported.
  • International norms, standards and guidelines for the quality, safety, efficacy and cost-effective use of traditional medical products and technologies developed and their national and/or regional implementation advocated/supported.
  • Evidence-based and scientifically sound and cost-effective use of herbal and traditional medical products and technologies by health workers and consumers developed and supported within the regional and country programmes.
  • Human resources trained/developed/strengthened with evidence-based information and skills for proper use of traditional/herbal medicines.