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WHO’s Go Ahead for TCM Implies Extinction of Some of Wildlife Across the Globe

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recognised traditional Chinese remedies that involve use of the body parts of several endangered animals, giving rise to concerns of extinction of these wild animals, particularly in India.

Last month, WHO’s World Health Assembly recognised the use of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) for over 400 conditions in its International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD).

Over 100 countries are estimated to rely on this document in order to set their medical agenda.

While the announcement came as a relief for the proponents of the world’s oldest healthcare tradition who have long campaigned for the mainstreaming of TCM, it has been decried by several international organisations for potentially rubber-stamping trafficking of endangered species across the world.

According to wildlife media major National Geographic, TCM has driven several animals like pangolins, tigers, rhinos on the verge of extinction.

“Growing demand for TCM products has had devastating consequences for many species of wildlife. In some cases, poaching animals to use their body parts for traditional medicine is the primary reason why an animal faces a risk of extinction,” said a National Geographic report.

Speaking to ThePrint, a senior official from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) said the Government of India could “express its apprehension” regarding the WHO approval internationally.

“This approval basically encourages widespread use of animal products…We haven’t yet seen its impact, but the pressure is bound to go up,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

“But since this is an international issue, MoEF will hold discussions with MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) and then take a call on how to proceed.”

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Felicia Broderick

Felicia is the head of the column Medical Devices. An Electronics Engineer from the University of Michigan, Felicia, before opting for technical writing as a profession, worked at firms such as SEH, Leviton, etc. In 2016, she quit her job at Leviton and started taking writing projects as a freelancer. Gradually, she developed an interest in technical writing, and now leading a column here.

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