CARIBBEAN ASSOCIATION OF RESEARCHERS AND HERBAL PRACTITIONERS (CARAPA) NEWS

(Originally published at OnePaper.com)

The CARAPA NewsReport No. 2, August 2001: DID YOU KNOW THAT THE UNITED NATIONS’ WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) CURRENTLY PROVIDES SUPPORT TO MEMBER STATES TO HELP THEM TO DEVELOP THEIR OWN TRADITIONAL MEDICINE SYSTEMS AND INTEGRATE THESE INTO THEIR NATIONAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS?

The reason for this action of the WHO is to ensure appropriate, safe and effective use of traditional medicine in the 21st century. (See the reference cited below )

But what is “traditional medicine”? This comprehensive term is used to refer to all the various forms of indigenous medicine around the world… Traditional medicine therapies include medication therapies if they involve the use of herbal medicines, animal parts and/or minerals, and, also the non-medication therapies, such as acupuncture. In countries where traditional medicine has NOT been incorporated into the current national heath care system, traditional medicine is often termed “complementary”, or “alternative” or “non-conventional” medicine.

Herbal medicines and acupuncture are the most widely-used traditional medicine therapies in the world today.

Evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicine treatments used is, however, generally lacking, thereby raising, for the U.N. WHO agencies, issues about safety, rational use and cost-effectiveness.

Policy and regulation are key to ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine, including herbal medicine.

Although the number has recently risen substantially, less than half of the 198 WHO Member States so far provide regulations for the herbal medicines.

The financial benefits that can accrue from the discovery of new drugs, based on plants or from the broad-based commercial application of traditional medicine knowledge, are substantial.

New and emerging challenges for traditional medicine are now quite visible, — such as the unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plant species. There also is the problem of the failure to resolve complex intellectual property issues concerning ownership of traditional medicine knowledge and the equitable distribution of its benefits. This will be one of the issues to be re-visited during review of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement.

Reference:
“Traditional Health Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Baseline Information”. Washington, DC, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, 2000; CE Seaforth
The regional offices of the WHO may be discovered at http://www.who.int/m/topicgroups/regional_offices/en/index.html
To become a member of CARAPA, write to contact Dr. Gilbertha St. Rose, President CARAPA – St. Lucia Division, Lower Clarke Street, Vieux Fort, St Lucia, WEST INDIES. Phone/Fax: (758)454-8737 ~ Or, click to send E-mail: gsr@candw.lc