Lesson 31: Environment and human health

Intellectual property rights (IPRS) and community biodiversity registers (CBRS)

  1. Traditional people, especially tribal’s living in forest, have used local plants and animals for generations. This storehouse of knowledge leads to many new discoveries for modern pharmaceutical products. The revenue generated from such finds goes to the pharmaceutical industry that has done the research and patented the product. This leaves the original tribal user with nothing, while the industry could earn billions of rupees. To protect the rights of indigenous people who have used these products, a possible tool is to create a CBR of local products and their use so that their exploitation by the pharmaceutical industry would result in a royalty to the local community.
  2. Traditional medicine: traditional medicine refers to health practices, approaches, knowledge and beliefs that incorporate plan-animals and mineral – based medicines, frequently of local or regional origin. It may be linked to spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercises. These may be used singly or in combination to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being. Traditional medicine is often handed down through the generations or may be known to a special caste or tribal group.
  3. In India, some of our primary health-care needs are taken care of entirely by traditional medicine, while in Africa; up to 80% of the population uses it for primary health care. In industrialized countries, adaptation of traditional medicine is termed ‘complementary’ or Alternative’ medicine (CAM).
  4. While there are advantages to traditional medicine as it is cheap and locally available, there are also diseases which it cannot treat effectively. This is a risk, as patients who use these alternative medicinal practices may rely on ineffective measures. The consequences could be a serious delay in diagnosis and effective treatment of a treatable condition. There is need to carefully research the claims of traditional practices to ensure that they are effective.
  5. 25% of modern medicines are made from plants first used traditionally. Yoga is known to reduce asthma attacks. Traditional medicine has been found to be effective against several infectious diseases.

Last modified: Friday, 6 January 2012, 10:21 AM