The National Institute of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/about) is welcoming public feedback for their fifth draft Strategic Plan covering 2021 to 2025 (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/nccih-strategic-plan-2021-2025#). The plan identifies research efforts and priorities through this period. AHPA staff remained engaged through the development of the new Plan and regularly attend meetings of the NCCIH Advisory Council's public sessions.
The NCCIH Advisory Council held a meeting on January 15, 2021 (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/news/events/advisory-council-76th-meeting) to discuss the plan and several areas of grant awards and research done under the auspices of the program. AHPA Chief Information Scientist, Merle Zimmermann, Ph.D., attended. The NCCIH also advised the budgets had been completed as of December 21st and reviewed the main parts of the plan, which has a strong focus on whole person health, recontextualizing dietary (including herbal formulas, botanicals, and supplements) as well as mind and body practices in a wider context, while still supporting studies on basic and mechanistic research.
The full draft plan can be reviewed at the agency website (https://files.nccih.nih.gov/nccih-strategic-plan-2021-2025-draft.pdf) and public comments are welcomed through March 12, 2021 through a Request for Information (NOT-AT-21-005) (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-AT-21-005.html) established February 8, 2021 for this purpose.
Through the course of the NCCIH 2021-2025 Strategic Plan's development AHPA offered the following feedback on the draft plan as it was assembled during 2020-2021.
The American Herbal Products Association (“AHPA”) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of companies that grow, process, manufacture and market herbs and herbal products, scientists and laboratories that conduct herbal products testing and research, and complementary and integrative health practitioners. AHPA serves its members by promoting research into the utility and safety of products that contain herbs, including dietary supplements.
Numerous AHPA members are engaged in activities directly impacted by or related directly to the direction of the upcoming draft Plan. AHPA members therefore share NCCIH’s interest in the objectives outlined therein and in facilitating continued public-private collaboration to advance the study of complementary and integrative health approaches. These comments are submitted on their behalf.
AHPA strongly commends the ongoing work of NCCIH engaging with and including natural products, including herbs and herbal products, in the scope of the strategic plan, and encourages the continuance of this practice.
AHPA strongly supports the emerging research opportunity to explore the impact of self-directed health and healthfulness practices and their impact into overall wellness, especially over the last year with access to traditional care challenged by current circumstances while availability of natural products, including herbs and herbal products, has remained.
AHPA values NCCIH support for research on a broad range of practices, interventions, and products that have an origin outside of conventional Western medicine and look forward to continued collaboration with NCCIH to help to advance the study of complementary and integrative health approaches.
AHPA continues working cooperatively with Federal Agencies, offering industry help and feedback as the national trade organization and voice of the herbal products industry. The NCCIH Strategic Plan is expected to be finalized at the next meeting of the agency Advisory Council, which will be held May 14, 2021.