Safety Net-The Construction of Biomedical Safety in the Global 'Traditional Medicine' Discourse

Paul Kadetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the social construction of the World Health Organization's normative discourse of the safety of 'traditional medicines'. The findings presented are based on archival research, a review of the literature, discourse analysis of who documents, semi-structured interviews with pertinent stakeholders, and participant experience at the Western Pacific Region Office of the who. This discourse of safety can be traced to the rise and global dominance of scientific medicine over plural health care and the construction of biomedical expertise. This paper argues that biomedicine's global hegemony and construction of a dominant discourse of safety was, at least in part, influenced by the American Medical Association, The Flexner Report, The Rockefeller Foundation, the League of Nations Health Organization, the World Health Organization, and the who's adoption of traditional Chinese medicine as a template for health care integration. This network of stakeholders influenced the construction and dissemination of the global biomedical discourse of safety and the purported 'safe' control, regulation, and integration of non-biomedical practices and practitioners via biomedical expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-151
Number of pages31
JournalAsian Medicine
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • American Medical Association
  • The Flexner Report
  • The Rockefeller Foundation
  • World Health Organization
  • safety
  • traditional Chinese medicine
  • traditional medicines


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