GlobinMed was set up in sync with the significant increase of the role of traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) in contributing to the maintenance of human health over the years. It was a conclusion from the 12th Meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers who suggested that scattered information on T&CM from Commonwealth countries should be gathered, evaluated and centralized for easy access.
The elements of Malaysia’s strengths; the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) set up, a melting pot of rich biodiversity, various ethnic groups practicing many forms of traditional knowledge with strong beliefs and practices; assisted our bid to host the information hub.
Malaysia, with its myriad of unique inherent strengths; rich biodiversity, multiethnicity, strong support from a stable government, together with the establishment of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), was given the honour to host a global electronic information resource on traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) after much deliberation during the 13th Commonwealth Health Minister Meeting on 27 November 2001 and the Pre-World Health Assembly meeting on 12 May 2002.
The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) of the Ministry of Health Malaysia was officially granted the approval by the Malaysian Cabinet to implement this strategic project on 28 August 2002. A prototype was launched in October 2003 and the project is continually developed into the current phase.
GlobinMed strives to become the source of referral on T&CM to the world through smart partnership, technology advancement and dedicated staff.
The most credible provider of evidence-based information on T&CM towards the establishment of Integrated Medicine.
- To become the reference point on T&CM and integrated medicine
- To ensure customer satisfaction
- Exclusive availability and wide accessibility of T&CM information
Chronology of the Establishment
1. Idea and Proposal Preparation
The idea on the project began in the year 1998 during the 12th Commonwealth Health Minister’s Meeting in Barbados. A decision was made to establish a working group for various activities on T&CM in order to uphold the safety of the population and to safeguard the intellectual properties of the traditional practitioners in an effort to incorporate T&CM into respective national medical system. The working group was recommended to look at related issues including policy, research and valid information sharing among the Commonwealth nations.
In the year 2000, during a health research conference organised by WHO in Bangkok, one of the symposium discussed the role of TM/CAM (Traditional Medicine/Complementary and Alternative Medicine) and Malaysia which was represented by the then Director-General of Health had given commitment to develop an electronic information resource centre to accommodate a variety of related information. Among the factors that triggered the idea was due to the existing Malaysia’s commitment on information technology projects with infrastructure establishment and multimedia super corridor (MSC) initiative as well as political and economic stability. The proposed information resource centre in the form of a web portal highlighted Malaysia’s role as the project key leader.
Following that, several follow-up meetings were held in Malaysia attended by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) and Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including representatives from TM/CAM working group based at Oxford University, UK to prepare the proposal. The proposal on the establishment of the information centre was prepared and the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) through its Herbal Medicine Research Centre was nominated as the main implementing agency. The proposal was presented to the then Prime Minister of Malaysia for his views before subsequent presentation at the next Commonwealth Health Minister’s Meeting.
2. Approval of project proposal
In the year 2001, the 13th Commonwealth Health Minister’s Meeting at Christchurch, New Zealand, had basically agreed and accepted the proposal on the establishment of the information resource centre which would be named The Commonwealth Information Hub on Traditional and Complementary Medicine. Malaysia has expressed her willingness to be the key leader by providing funding for the establishment of the information resource centre. The meeting also requested Malaysia to provide further details on several issues including future funding, information copyrights, restrictions of information browsing, the planning on implementation and also information exploration from related sources. The proposal paper was then presented at the pre-World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva later in 2002.
Subsequently in May 2002, Malaysia was finally given the task to lead the establishment of the information centre with a funding provided by the Malaysian government. Malaysia was recognised as the main owner and information-sharing were based on contributions from partners which would be identified later. To reflect the nature of the information content that would be based on a global scale and not limited only to the Commonwealth countries, the project was renamed to the Global Information Hub on Integrated Medicine (GlobinMed).
Therefore, on 28th August 2002, a memorandum cabinet paper was presented to the Malaysian government and the Malaysian Cabinet has approved the project. The approval includes a budget allocation for the first 5 years for the webportal development by adapting existing functional webportal which has a successful track record on operations either from within or outside the country, and the establishment of a suitable Special Corporate Vehicle (SCV) as the project implementer for sustainability of the project.
3. Project Implementation
3.1 Development by phases
The project was implemented through several phases:
- Prototype Phase
- Development Phase
- Growth and Membership Drive Phase
- Commercialisation Phase
During the initial stage (prototype phase), IMR collaborated with Intramedicine USA (later known as NIHonDemand). This information technology company from the United States provides information on integrated medicine through the pharmacy network in the U.S. on pay-basis. The collaboration included the development of the webportal engine, the updating of the existing information content and the development of new information from Malaysia. Through this collaborative effort, the GlobinMed prototype with its URL address at www.globinmed.com was successfully launched on 20th October 2003 during the International Conference on Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2003 (INTRACOM 2003). The prototype which was based in U.S. had been officiated by the then Deputy Prime Minister YAB Dato‘ Seri Abdullah Hj. Ahmad Badawi in Kuala Lumpur.
From the year 2005 until year 2007 (development phase), subsequent prototype development was implemented with the cooperation from a local IT company Pharmaniaga Solution Sdn. Bhd (PSSB) (later known as Forte Tech Solutions Sdn. Bhd. (FTSSB)). It involved the transfer of the prototype from U.S. to Malaysia, system improvement, project management and information content expansion. After the successful transfer of the prototype to Malaysia, the GlobinMed system underwent rigorous improvement. The content scopes for GlobinMed were further developed and expanded to include the international information through the link to International Data. The project management aspect managed the active development of procedures and policies to ensure smooth operation and strengthened local and international collaborations. The newly developed GlobinMed was then officially launched by the then Health Minister of Malaysia, YB Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek who represented the Malaysian Prime Minister YAB Dato’ Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi during INTRACOM, ICTMMM on 17th July 2007.
After the year 2007, the collaboration between MOH and FTSSB ended whereby the transfer process of GlobinMed system from FTSSB to designated location at MOH was conducted together with the improvement to ‘search function’ of the system. The Project Management Team in the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), MOH continued their efforts to constantly producing and updating the information through in-house activities and through identified contributors and partners from both Malaysia and abroad.
Apart from MARDI, FRIM, Malaysian Herbal Corporation (MHC) and existing international links, other agencies such as SIRIM, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, Quantum Beez Sdn. Bhd., Canadian Resources (through Quantum Beez), Herbwalk Consultancy Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia Chiropractor Society, United Nations International Trade Centre (through MHC) also contributed to the expansion of the information contents. In addition, MMCA Informatics Sdn. Bhd. was entrusted for managing the maintenance of ICT.
3.2 Monitoring the project implementation
The GlobinMed project is overseen by the Steering Committee which is chaired by the Director-General of Health while the implementation team consists of the Technical Committee. The Technical Committee is chaired by Deputy Director-General of Health (Research and Technical Support), which is also supported by two project management committee responsible for IT development and content development. The secretariat operates from Herbal Medicine Research Centre (HMRC) from the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), MOH. The secretariat also functions as the project management team on the advices from both the Technical and Steering committees.
For the last 5 years, the Steering Committee was referred only when required. As for the Technical Committee, IT technical and Content Committee, the project monitoring activity proceeds on regular basis.
GlobinMed Today (Begining 2011) and the Challenges
IMR is actively promoting the GlobinMed project (growth and membership drive phase) through active participation in conferences and seminars at the national and international level, training courses, CME/CPD events and also online efforts to invite more partners in order to enhance and expand the content and ICT of GlobinMed. In 2010, due to the increasing numbers of users, GlobinMed website was given a new ‘look and feel’ in lined with the current needs of users which more user-friendly features were introduced and integrated into the system.
To capture the ever-expanding information pertaining to traditional and complementary medicine, GlobinMed introduced two new scopes as addition to existing scopes which are the Medicinal Herbs & Plants Database and Traditional Knowledge.
GlobinMed has always put evidence-based information as priority and IP of the content of the website is strictly safeguarded. Beginning year 2011, no new content contributor was appointed and the project management team with the advice from the Technical Committee of GlobinMed has taken a new initiative of producing in-house writings and to include more IMR staffs into this initiative.
4. GlobinMed New Partners and Content
4.1 The Content of Malaysian Herbal Monograph (MHM) from the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries
Malaysian Herbal Monograph (MHM) was produced as a part of the national level initiative to support the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) through the Entry Point Project (EPP) No. 1 which is High Value Herbs. A new section was provided under an existing Scope in order to publish the information using the GlobinMed’s platform. This new involvement is spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries (MOA).
4.2 Information Content by ASEAN Taskforce on TM/CAM (ATFTM)
ASEAN Task force on TM/CAM (ATFTM) which has been operating for 4 years had identified several of its activities which include one project that involves sharing of information among 10 member countries. In its latest meeting held in November 2011 in Indonesia, the meeting agreed to display the project outcome and ATFTM activity announcements temporarily using the GlobinMed’s platform while their own website is being constructed.
4.3 Collaboration with regional offices of World Health Organisation
ATFTM was attended by WHO representatives for WPRO and SEARO regions and both representatives have shown their interest in collaborating with Malaysia.
GlobinMed is currently in the Growth and Membership Drive Phase and moving towards the Commercialisation Phase. The GlobinMed team express their utmost gratitude to those who have been involved and still actively contributing to the expansion and improvement of the project. The GlobinMed team wish to invite more contributors and partners to fulfil the vision of GlobinMed and to ensure accurate and reliable information on integrated medicine is available to the world.