UHN-AIIA MoU to Explore Benefits of Holistic Health in Modern Medicine
Gujarat, India. April 20, 2022: Toronto-based University Health Network (UHN) and the All-India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), New Delhi, signed an MoU on April 20, 2022, in the presence of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explore the benefits of holistic medicine practices like Ayurveda.
What role can traditional holistic health principles play in today’s modern approach to medicine?
That’s the question University Health Network (UHN), Canada’s largest research hospital, and the All-India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), India’s leading clinical and research institute, have agreed to explore, in signing a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Together, UHN and AIIA will evaluate, through careful clinical research, Ayurvedic interventions to health, such as plant-based diets, yoga and meditation, and other promising approaches.
The partnership is being facilitated by the Canada India Foundation (CIF), who, through lectures and public advocacy, has been spearheading a campaign to raise awareness among Canadians, of the potential benefits of Ayurveda.
Satish Thakkar, Chair, CIF, said, “We are extremely excited to greet this day as a critical moment in our campaign to get India’s five-thousand-year-old medicine system a place of honour in Canada as well as the world. This is only the beginning, but definitely a great one, as it is evident from the fact that India’s Prime Minister Modi himself gave the initiative his support by attending the MoU signing in Gandhinagar. We are grateful to him and everyone else who helped create this momentum for Ayurveda.”
Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director of UHN’s Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation Program, Senior Scientist at The Kite Research Institute, and GoodLife Fitness Chair in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Rehabilitation, is optimistic about the potential this partnership will bring.
“When it comes to dealing with chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer, I believe it is important to explore the potential that certain traditional systems can play. We are happy to formalize the collaboration between UHN and AIIA, and hope that our clinical trials may result in discoveries that would help manage chronic diseases in more effective ways,” says Dr. Oh.
India’s Consul General in Toronto and an ardent supporter of the Ayurveda campaign, Ms. Apoorva Srivastava, said, “Today’s signing of an MoU between two of the most prestigious institutions in their independent fields is an event that I expect will have far reaching impact on healthcare in Canada. I believe that Ayurveda can provide solutions to some of the challenges being faced by the healthcare delivery in the North America.”
Prof. Tanuja Nesari, Director, All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) complimented the CIF for its long-term commitment to Ayurveda in Canada. She said, “This MoU is a clear indication that your efforts are not in vain. Ayurveda today is finding acceptance in more and more countries. We have seen collaborations taking place between institutions in India and other countries to foster better understanding of the many aspects of Ayurveda. We are particularly delighted that UHN, a world-renowned institution in healthcare, has come on board to further explore the possibilities in combining modern medicine and Ayurveda. This MoU offers great opportunities to researchers at both UHN and AIIA.”
Vaidya Harish Verma, President, Canadian Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, who first proposed the idea of the CIF Ayurveda Lecture Series, is especially hopeful that the research and the accompanying interest in Ayurveda will eventually lead to its formal recognition in Canada. “The new initiative is expected to stimulate additional scientific exchange and collaboration on clinical research between the scientists of UHN and AllA. The purpose of the memorandum is to identify broad areas of mutual interest and promote research on the safety and efficacy of the centuries old Ayurvedic formulations,” Verma added.
Speaking on the initiative, “Dr. V.I. Lakshmanan, OC, CIF Past Chair, said, “This is a great day of all Indians. For the first time, a world-famous Canadian research institute will lend its support to look at the beneficial aspects of Ayurveda that some of us almost take for granted.” It was during the successful bilateral CIF Health Summit, Co-Chaired by Dr. Lakshmanan & Satish Thakkar in 2021 that the $1 Million CIF-UHN joint fund to support research in holistic medicine involving Ayurveda was first launched.
CIF National Convener, Ritesh Malik along with Dr. Shehroz S. Khan representing UHN, were present at the formal signing of the MoU in Gujarat’s capital city, Gandhinagar. “Everyone is excited here on the new venture. Of course, the presence of Prime Minister Modi has elevated the event to a higher dimension. From the reactions to the proposal we have got here, it is clear that the entire Ayurveda community is thrilled at this initiative.”
The signing of the MoU took place during a three-day international Global Ayush Investment & Innovation Summit, organized by the Ministry of Ayush in Gandhinagar. Reports indicate that more MoUs were finalized with institutions from a number of countries that sent their representatives to the event. It also witnessed the establishment of the first ever WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine in Jamnagar Ayurveda University.
The Summit was a clear indication of India’s resolve to elevate the traditional medicine systems to the standards demanded by modern age. It drew participation from an impressive list of foreign delegates as well as the top policymakers, industry leaders, academicians, and scholars. Among the dignitaries who addressed the international audience were India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who inaugurated the Summit, Prime Minister of Mauritius Pravind Jugnauth and Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director General, WHO.