|Medicinal Plants: Rescuing a Global Heritage (WB, 1997, 80 p.)|
|1. The global background|
Developing countries are entering a new era when community health services will likely occupy an evermore prominent position in national priorities. The type of production, processing, and manufacturing of a large array of medicinal plants produced in the rural sector - and in turn the ability of developing countries to invest in medicinal plant (phytopharmaceutical) industries - will determine the future quality of those community health services.
To derive optimal benefit from the conservation and cultivation of its medicinal-plant genetic resources, each country must develop an integrated strategy for their management and use, identify policies, and enact legislation that will encourage a broadly-based delivery of the benefits to be realized from these actions rather than allowing the majority of the economic benefits to accrue to a smaller but well-place minority.
So far, however, few developing countries are doing this. In order to stimulate more such action, three regional workshops sponsored by Global Initiatives for Traditional Systems of Health (GIFTS) were held in Latin America, Africa and Asia in 1994-95 followed by an international meeting in England in late 1995. All stressed the need for clearly-defined policies promoting the safe utilization of traditional medicine. Recommendations included:
- the documentation and promotion of traditional medicines with proven efficacy;
- increased funding of research and development programs;
- need to evolve policies which involve local communities in conservation programs;
- document and cultivate endangered plant species known to have medicinal uses;
- recognizing the role of women;
- information exchange; and education at all levels to increase awareness of medicinal plants and their economic potential in drug production.