Testing Traditions

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The problematic program actually dates from the early 2000s, when WHO launched its first "traditional medicine strategy." In 2013 WHO's Director-General Margaret Chan announced an extension of original initiative to foster the integration of traditional medicine into health care systems as a way to improve health in developed as well as developing countries while limiting health care costs. In the resulting 76-page brochure, "Traditional Medicine Strategy," WHO touts the growing interest worldwide in traditional medicine as well as its increasing economic importance. The report pays lip service to the need for attention to the "safety and efficacy" of traditional medicine and refers in a generic way to "risks" associated with its use. However, it fails to cite a single example of the types of damage associated with the use of herbs or to refer to the extensive evidence of adverse effects.

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