BIREME Bulletin n° 42

VHL and TCIM Americas Network are topic of an editorial in an international journal

The Virtual Health Library Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine (VHL TCIM) is a thematic VHL that involves a Network of Institutions from fifteen countries in the Americas. This important initiative was launched in July 2017 as a project that, since then, works through the TCIM Americas Network, created with the aim of articulating various social actors involved in the generation of policies, regulations, training, promotion, practice, use and research of these therapeutic systems and methods in the Americas Region, to develop a common agenda and promote the integration of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in national health systems and services. This initiative is aligned with a series of WHO and PAHO/WHO policy instruments, including the WHO Strategy for Traditional Medicine 2014-2023, the Ethnicity and Health Policy, and the Organization’s Strategy for Universal Access to Health and Universal Health Coverage.

editorialThe VHL and TCIM Network were the subject of an editorial authored by John Weeks, Editor in Chief of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine[1], in the February 2020  edition, entitled “Infrastructure to Spur Inclusion of Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine: The TCIM Americas Network Model Inside the Pan American Health Organization”.

The editorial mentions the initiative’s successful trajectory linking PAHO’s invaluable support, starting with Nicaragua under the leadership of Dr. Socorro Gross[2], in 2017, as the Organization’s representative in the country, and of BIREME in the management actions and methodological and technical support for the development of the VHL TCIM in a collaborative and networked manner. The author recognizes the effort of those involved in the project even without an institutional budget or even a program dedicated to the topic, and yet it involves partners and organizations not only in Latin America, but also in North America and Europe.

Months after the project launch meeting, in March 2018, the Brazilian Health Ministry gathered members of the emerging network at a Conference in Rio de Janeiro attended by more than four thousand participants. On this occasion, Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO/WHO, together with Diego González, Director of BIREME, carried out the launch[3] of the VHL TCIM.

BIREME’s relevant role in the development of the VHL TCIM methodological and technological platform is mentioned by Dr. Weeks, which also cites the WHO’s Global Index Medicus, as an example of the global initiative with the technological and strategic support of BIREME, “the only information Center of this nature in the WHO system”.

Channeling the efforts to organize the Network was a necessity in itself, affirms Dr. Daniel Gallego-Perez, “the VHL TCIM Americas project began as a manifestation of the collective need. It brings together social actors, representatives from health ministries and regulatory agencies, academia, professional development programs, research groups, professional associations, major health service providers, non-governmental organizations and other related networks. The project grew and developed structures and protocols and informal statutes to optimize its processes and the requirements of its members. The VHL served to anchor the network’s work.”

Dr. Carissa Etienne, Director of PAHO/WHO summarizes the initiative, stating that the project was born to “meet the demand expressed by many countries to improve the availability and access to relevant information and scientific and technical information about this topic”.

mtci_2anosThe mission that moves scientists, clinicians and organizers in the field of integrative health is simple: to improve health through new practices and options. Although a simple objective, bringing together possibilities and resources to implement best practices is a long and irregular road, whether in institutions or in different contexts around the world, especially in the Americas.


[1] Monthly journal indexed in SCI-E of Web of Science (Impact Factor 2018: 1,868), PubMed/Medline, Embase, and Scopus, to name only the most relevant databases.

[2] PAHO. Participants from 21 countries of the Region propose increased collaboration in traditional and complementary medicine to move toward universal health. Available at:

[3] Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine for the Americas VHL is launched in event with the presence of PAHO/WHO director. BIREME Bulletin n°18. Avasilable at:



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