The World Health Organization opened its first summit on traditional medicine on Thursday, with the group saying it was seeking to collect evidence and data to allow for the safe use of such treatments.

Traditional medicines are a "first port of call for millions of people worldwide," the U.N. health agency said, with the talks in India bringing together policymakers and academics aiming to "mobilize political commitment and evidence-based action" toward them.

"WHO is working to build the evidence and data to inform policies, standards and regulations for the safe, cost-effective and equitable use of traditional medicine," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said as he opened the summit.