Ayurveda, other traditional medicines to get Hungarian boost

New Delhi: Hungary, a member of EU that restricts entry of Indian traditional medicines, is likely to sign a pact this week with India to enhance co-operation in this sector.

India is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in this regard during Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban`s four-day visit that begins today.

At present, traditional Indian medicines face regulatory hurdles in EU markets. Enhanced co-operation with Hungary may facilitate market access for this sector to the 27-nation EU bloc, experts said.

India-Hungary joint commission on economic cooperation yesterday agreed that cooperation between the two countries in the field of traditional medicine (including ayurveda) should be further strengthened by signing an MoU.

"The MoU is expected to sign during the visit of Orban. It aims at strengthening bilateral cooperation in this field by enhancing the use of traditional system of medicine, promoting mutual exchange of information, experts, scientists, practitioners and students," a senior official in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) told PTI.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is visiting India between October 16-19, accompanied by a business delegation.
The agreement is also aimed at facilitating teaching, research and service provision of traditional medicine in Hungary, a central European nation.

DIPP Secretary Saurabh Chandra and Hungary State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Economic Relations Peter Szijjarto attended the joint commission meeting.

India has also suggested setting up of AYUSH (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) academic chairs in the Hungarian Universities.

The EU`s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive makes it compulsory for traditional medicine companies to show 30 years of traditional uses, including 15 years in EU.

"This results in a complete denial of market access for traditional herbal medicinal products ," National Intellectual Property Organisation Director T C James said.

He said for the sector huge potential exists in EU, but the government should educate them about the industry.

At different fora India has raised its concerns over restrictions in the European Union to traditional medicines and chemical industries.

For cooperation in science and technology, both sides agreed to establish a new Indo-Hungarian Strategic Research Fund with contribution of 2 million euros a year each.

"This fund will provide support to mutually agreed priority areas of strategic research such as green chemistry, biomedicine, electronics and optics, water management and agri biotechnology," the official said.

As per estimates, India exports about USD 1 billion of traditional medicines, which is a small fraction of more than USD 80 billion of exports taking place worldwide.