Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health
The Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health (GIFTS) is a program launched in 1993 at the headquarters of the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, D.C. GIFTS states its purpose of "bringing into policy focus the importance of traditional (indigenous) medicine in the daily lives and health care of the majority of the population of most emerging economies." Initially headquartered at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington D.C., in 1995 GIFTS moved to the University of Oxford. Initial funding was from the Office of Alternative Medicine at the United States National Institutes of Health. GIFTS is sponsored by the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP). Other organizations participating financially and organizationally include the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and Green Templeton College at Oxford University.
GIFTS performed research in rural Tanzania, collecting data on popular knowledge of traditional medicinal plants, and uploading to a database to preserve the knowledge. In the field of malaria, GIFTS has also coordinated an international research collaboration to address both prevention –through traditional methods for repelling and controlling mosquitoes– and treatment. In 1999, GIFTS collaborated with WHO, the University of Oxford, and researchers around the world in the creation of the Research Initiative on Traditional Antimalarial Methods (RITAM), with the purpose of developing or validating local herbal medicines to prevent and treat malaria. GIFTS also founded the HIV/AIDS Research Initiative on Traditional Healthcare in Africa (HARITHAF) in order to identify, assess, and develop safe and effective local treatments for HIV/AIDS-related illnesses.
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