NICM researchers collaborate with WHO

24 June 2019

NICM researchers and their expertise have been sought by the World Health Organization (WHO) for two separate initiatives, the Guideline Development Group (GDG) for physical activity in youth, adults and older adults; and the Working Group on WHO Benchmarks for Training in Yoga.

“It is a real privilege to be selected for the WHO Guideline Development Group and assist in reviewing the scope of the 2010 guidelines on physical activity in youth, adults and older adults, as well as determine the process by which recommendations will be developed,” said NICM Senior Research Fellow, Dr Joseph Firth who will travel to the WHO headquarters for the GDG meeting in July.

Physical inactivity has been identified as a leading risk factor for global mortality and a contributor to the rise in overweight and obesity.

“Over the last eight years there has been a large increase evidence on the health impact of different types, amounts and durations of physical activity as well as on the impact of sedentary behaviours and its interrelationship with levels of physical activity and health. Particular areas of new evidence include the impact of physical activity on mental wellbeing and cognitive health outcomes, health outcomes in older adults and in children under the age of five years,” said Dr Firth.

In 2019 WHO published a global guideline physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under five years of age. The Global action plan on physical activity 2018-2030 also identified the need to update the 2010 guidelines on physical activity in youth, adults and older adults, which is exactly what the GDG will be working towards when they meet in Geneva.

Earlier in the year, NICM Research Fellow, Dr Michael de Manincor travelled to India to participate in the WHO Working Group Meeting on WHO Benchmarks for Training in Yoga.

Sixteen experts were selected for the WHO Working Group from the US, UK, Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and Australia, represented by Dr de Manincor.

Involved in practicing and teaching yoga for almost 40 years, as well as significant research in the field over the last few years, Dr de Manincor says he looks forward to what the future brings.

“Over the last 40 years, both myself and many colleagues have seen incredible growth in the popularity and diversity of yoga across the world, including the healing that yoga can bring to people’s lives,” said Dr de Manincor.

“Part of my work has included a dedication to development of training and professional standards in the yoga teaching and therapy profession, in Australia and internationally.

“The WHO Working Group focused on discussions around the evaluation of yoga therapy, identifying trends in use, and also policy work related to regulatory frameworks for yoga practice and training.”

The meeting was organised jointly by the WHO and the Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India, with both parties having signed a Project Collaboration Agreement on cooperation in the field of traditional and complementary medicine under WHO strategy covering the period 2014 – 2023.

The next stage of these WHO Benchmarks for Training in Yoga will be dissemination of the initial Working Group draft to more than 200 stakeholders and experts around the world, for comment and further review. The final Benchmarks document is expected to be table in 2020.

Dr de Manincor is also a member of a related working group, to support development of a global framework for tertiary level training and qualifications for yoga in healthcare. This project was recently launched at the Global Yoga Accreditation Summit (GYAS) in the United Nations building in New York, attended by Dr de Manincor.