Asian medicine today is a multi-billion dollar industry. Asian medicines are engaged in complex global networks of actors: conservators who watch the changing supplies of wild plants in Asian mountains, medical botanists who study the substitution practices of collectors and marketers in Asia, policy makers who control or prevent the entry of drugs into European countries, corporations who seek to exploit drugs based on Asian medical knowledge, professional associations who seek to regulate Asian medical practice. ICTAMs VII and VIII both took place in Asia (2009 in Bhutan, 2013 in Korea). The European location of ICTAM IX will allow us to take stock of the current state of Asian medicine and to examine the global flows of medical knowledge, practice and materials from a different but equally significant vantage point.
Significant role in improving the wellbeeing of people - Nobel Prize for Tu Youyou
Traditional Asian medicines play a significant role in improving the wellbeing of people worldwide, both as a health care system in their own right, and as a resource for bio-discovery projects. Their applications will only grow, and it is crucial to scientifically validate traditional claims for the therapeutic uses of the formulations. The recent award of the Nobel Prize for Medicine to Tu Youyou for her development of an anti-malarial drug derived from traditional Chinese medicine serves as an inspiration, and is a living proof that traditional medical wisdom can serve not only as a cultural relic but also as a reservoir of curative compounds that could save millions of life worldwide. To reach a full understanding of traditional Asian medicine, we need to integrate professionals from many disciplines, including medical anthropologists, traditional medicine practitioners, clinical trial specialists, ethnobotanists, ethnopharmacologists, ethnopharmacognosists, ethnochemists, herbalists, businessmen, historians, economists, political scientists, conservationists, botanists, translators and more. ICTAM IX will bring together these professionals to share their experience, findings and knowledge, and work out appropriate strategies and networking to enhance research on traditional medicines.
Encounters between practitioners of biomedicine and of traditional Asian medicines
Asian medicines have an increasingly prominent presence within the wide range of so-called traditional or alternative medicines within Western societies This increasing presence requires specific attention to the consequent encounters between practitioners of biomedicine and of traditional Asian medicines. Such encounters take place in a variety of local contexts, created, for example, by the Heilpraktikergesetz (the 1939 decree regulating non-biomedical healers) in Germany, or the differing regulatory regimes existing in other European countries or in the USA. Understanding these encounters and local contexts, and disentangling the complex interactions between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ they generate, requires all of the various skills of IASTAM members, both as researchers in our various disciplines, and as practitioners whose work is informed by our research.
For an inter- and transdisciplinary research exchange
We intend to provide space at ICTAM IX for inter- and transdisciplinary research exchange, and for discussing points of intersection and of tension between our various approaches and perspectives. ICTAM IX will be an opportunity to develop new networks of collaboration and exchange, and to consider how both our association, and the field as a whole, can move forward. ICTAM IX will gather studies from clinical trial specialists, anthropologists, historians and clinicians, economists and political scientists, conservationists, botanists, translators and more.
We plan to invite and engage with representatives from the political sphere, at both national and European levels, as well as international organizations such as the WHO. We hope to have speakers from research funding institutions, such as Horizon 2020, the German Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust, as well as representatives of key practitioner bodies throughout the EU, such as the heads of councils of Chinese, Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha and Tibetan (So-wa-rig-pa) medicines in the various EU countries.
ICTAM IX as a trans-national forum
We intend that ICTAM IX will create a trans-national forum within which practitioner bodies can work together in a supportive and collaborative way in order to represent Asian medicines within the EU, to coordinate research, and to source and provide expert advice as required.