Medicinal plants boost livelihoods
The revision of WHO advice about the use of plants in the pharmaceutical industry is changing livelihoods of African communities and changing attitudes to traditional medicine. There is an excellent resource pack on medicinal plants (pdf download) from the CTA Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation. One issue that is raised in the resource pack is over-harvesting of natural resources. This will become more of a problem as communities realise the money-making potential of local plants.
There are a number of projects being developed to help communities develop medicinal products from plants. You will find a few of these below with links to news items and websites.
NAIROBI, 22 April (IRIN) – A project developing medicinal products from plants found in Kakamega forest, western Kenya, has transformed the livelihoods of nearby communities over the past few years, officials of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) have said.
A powder developed from one of the plants is used as a revitaliser, appetizer and clearer of hangovers: A group of farmers who have domesticated the “highly threatened” medicinal plant, known locally as mkombela (scientific name mondia whytei), used to collect and sell the roots locally.
Harnessing Africa’s medicinal plants to create new business opportunities for the rural poor
African farmers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are taking part in a social entrepreneurship project to cultivate medicinal plants for the pharmaceutical industry.
Some of the plants they will be growing will serve as food, high in protein and nutrition. Other plants could be used as treatments for diabetes, obesity and hypertension.
WHO traditional medicine strategy
The main objectives of the WHO Traditional medicine activities are:
- To facilitate integration of traditional medicine into the national health care system by assisting Member States to develop their own national policies on traditional medicine.
- To promote the proper use of traditional medicine by developing and providing international standards, technical guidelines and methodologies.
- To act as a clearing-house to facilitate information exchange in the field of traditional medicine.
The objective of the strategy is to discuss the role of traditional medicine in health care systems, current challenges and opportunities and WHO’s role and strategy for traditional medicine. Many Member States and many of WHO’s partners in traditional medicine (UN agencies, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and global and national professional associations) contributed to the Strategy and have expressed their willingness to participate in its implementation. The Strategy was reviewed by the WHO Cabinet in July 2001 and, based on Cabinet comments, has since been revised. The Strategy was printed in January 2002. Since this is at present a working document, the proposed objectives and activities have started to be implemented in early 2002 and the Strategy will be widely disseminated. We understand that the situation in the use of traditional medicine is quite different from country to country and region to region. For example, in AFRO and in WPRO, the Member States consider that traditional medicine is a priority for health care in their regions, but in other regions the role of traditional medicine is treated as complementary or alternative medicine.
For more information contact:
Dr Xiaorui Zhang
Traditional Medicine, Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy (EDM)
Fax: +41 22 791 4730
[Published at sociolingo.wordpress.com (Sociolingo’s Africa)]
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