BIMSTEC traditional healthcare expo begins

A three-day Bimstec AYUSH Traditional Healthcare Expo 2020 began Wednesday in the capital in a bid to raise awareness about the traditional medicine. The event is being jointly organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Bangladesh Ayurved Foundation (BAF), with the support of BIMSTEC Secretariat in Dhaka, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Ayush (India) at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in Dhaka.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen inaugurated the Expo as the chief guest, while Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India in Dhaka, was guest of honor in the ceremony. Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen laid emphasis on exploring regional and international cooperation and support saying the traditional medicine systems (TMS) have been playing a significant role in the overall public health care and well-being of the people in the Bay of Bengal Region.

"Traditional Medicine has substantial contributions to the national economies of the member states of BIMSTEC," he said, mentioning that it is imperative to continue efforts and mutual engagements to further strengthen the existing cooperation mechanism in the field of traditional medicine.

In Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman took initiatives to include Traditional Medicine in 1973 to ensure primary health care services to the poor and underprivileged people of the country. Over the last 10 years, he said, Bangladesh made remarkable progress in the health sector under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The Foreign Minister said traditional medicine has been a part of this development process and the incumbent government incorporated traditional medicine in the election manifesto of 2018. "We’re happy to see an increasing number of people receiving Unani and Ayurvedic treatment nowadays."

Dr Momen said Bangladesh government set up facilities to provide traditional medicine in the existing government hospitals at the district and upazila levels along with allopathic medicines. "I’m happy to learn that we have a future plan to establish one Unani and Ayurvedic Graduate college in each of the three divisions of Chattogram, Rajshahi and Barishal and one National Research Centre of Unani and Ayurvedic system of medicine in the country," he said.

Formation of a separate Council for Unani and Ayurvedic is in the pipeline, he said. In Bangladesh, Dr Momen said, it was Bangabandhu, who for the first time dreamt of working together with the neighbours in South Asia after our independence. He said BIMSTEC is now one of the most important regional forums. "It was Bangabandhu’s able daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who had been at the helm of Bangladesh Government during the time of the birth of BIMSTEC regional forum back in 1997."

Public Health is one of the core areas among the 14 sectors of cooperation under BIMSTEC. Dr Momen said the two-day event and the sideline brain storming sessions will facilitate a comprehensive series of debates and deliberations on all relevant aspects and issues related to problems and prospects of Traditional Medicine and its role in Public Health cooperation among BIMSTEC member states and they will find out suitable recommendations for the policymakers.

AFM Fakhrul Islam Munshi, Chief Coordinator of the Organizing Committee of BIMSTEC Traditional Healthcare Expo-2020, ABM Ghulam Mostafa, President of Bangladesh Ayurved Foundation, M Shahidul Islam, Secretary General of BIMSTEC, Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India, Dr A Roghu, Joint Adviser of Ministry of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AUSH) of Indian Government, Rajeev Singh, Director General of Indian Chamber of Commerce, ambassadors and high commissioners in Dhaka from the BIMSTEC member states were present.

Health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque will address the closing ceremony on Friday. According to BIMSTEC the expo will provide a platform for manufacturers of AYUSH, organic and natural products, nutritional food and beverages, raw materials and ingredients of 50 companies from Bimstec countries to showcase their products as well as explore possibility for business development, joint venture knowledge sharing etc.

Besides exhibition of the products, technical sessions and industry-academia interaction will be held during the three-day event. Representatives from the BIMSTEC member states - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand - will attend at the event.

BIMSTEC is an inter-governmental organisation that brings together seven countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal to promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development of the people of this region. Trade, investment, transport connectivity, energy cooperation, and public health are some of the core areas of BIMSTEC cooperation, he added.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organization that brings together seven countries surrounding the Bay of Bengal with the objective of promoting peace, progress and prosperity in the region.