WHO Collaborating Centre | NAFKAM

WHO Collaborating Centre

NAFKAM was appointed by the World Health Organization as a WHO Collaborating Centre (WHOCC) in 2008. It is one of three WHOCC for Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (TCI) in Europe.

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Barbara Wider Vellinga, Miek Jong og Vinjar Fønnebø.

As a WHOCC, NAFKAM actively takes part in an international collaboration network carrying out prioritized activities in support of WHO's programmes. In several areas of health and treatment, WHO relies on high-quality knowledge and input from specialist institutions such as NAFKAM.

NAFKAM is internationally recognized for its excellence in research and public information in the field of TCI. With its expertise and rigorous approach to the assessment of TCI, NAFKAM is proud to support the implementation of the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023.

Through this strategy, WHO aims to contribute to achieving universal health coverage. The United Nations Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage in 2019, includes a commitment to

"explore ways to integrate, as appropriate, safe and evidence-based traditional and complementary medicine services within (sub)national health systems, according to national context and priorities”.  

By operating in WHO's global context, NAFKAM can contribute to safer and more appropriate delivery of TCI services worldwide. Its activities for WHO therefore focus on strengthening the quality assurance, safety, proper use and effectiveness of TCI by regulating products, practices and practitioners.

NAFKAM's assignment from WHO

NAFKAM's tasks align with the three main strategic goals of the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy:

  1. To promote global communication and information exchange in the field of TCI.
  2. To contribute in expanding WHO’s efforts on patient safety and quality of care in TCI.
  3. To support WHO in identifying models of integration of traditional and complementary medicine in health systems.

The technical inputs and information support provided by NAFKAM contribute to developing outputs that will further expand the integrative dimensions between patient safety, quality of care and TCI. As a WHOCC, NAFKAM conducts a variety of activities.

NAFKAM's recent activities for WHO

  • NAFKAM chairs the WHO experts group to study different models for possible integration of TCI medicine into national health systems. It provides technical support and expertise for the collation and analysis of information as well as preparation and revision of the WHO report: 'Integration of Traditional and Complementary Medicine into Health Systems' (draft report).
  • Working group member: Core and Reference Indicators for Monitoring Traditional and Complementary Medicine in South-East Asia. WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, 2017‎
  • Working group member: Quality assurance and improvement in T&CM services: (draft) Report on Quality of Acupuncture Service, 2021

NAFKAM has reviewed the following of WHO benchmarks/technical documents: 

  • WHO benchmarks for training in Yoga, 2020/2021
  • WHO benchmarks for training in Anthroposophic Medicine, 2020
  • WHO benchmark for practice in Acupuncture, 2017
  • WHO technical document on ‘Key technical issues for herbal medicines with reference to interaction with other medicines’ , 2019
  • WHO technical document on ‘Clinical research in traditional and complementary medicine’ , 2017

In addition, NAFKAM has collected and analysed country-specific data on the legal status and regulation of TCI in 39 European countries. This resulted in three reports in 2012, as well as an online database providing open access to comprehensive legal and regulatory information on TCI in Europe (until December 2020).

Reflections and outlook

At the occasion of its most recent redesignation in 2020, the past and current director of NAFKAM as well as the WHO regional director for Europe recount twelve successful years and praise the collaboration:

“During this period, we have among other things worked to train researchers from all over the world in improving research methods, and have made a great effort to develop and improve the communication profession. The fact that we continue to work with WHO means that the work we do is considered important and recognized.”- Professor Vinjar Fønnebø, former Director of NAFKAM

"I would like to express my appreciation for your past contribution and I look forward to our continued successful collaboration." – Dr. Hans Henri Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe; Letter to UiT The Arctic University of Norway

“As a WHO Collaborating Centre, NAFKAM is able to make an important contribution to the worldwide dissemination of up to-date information on the legal status, regulation, safety and models of integration of Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine”.  – Professor Miek Jong, Director of NAFKAM 

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