Call for sustainable use of traditional medicines

Officially opening a workshop on the development of a legal framework “Medicinal Plants Project” in Mutare recently, the minister said it was important to note the role played by traditional medicines. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about four billion people ‘ about 80 percent of people in developing countries ‘ depend on traditional medicines to meet their primary health care needs. “Recognising this important role played by traditional medicine, my ministry formulated the Medicinal Plants Project to promote their sustainable utilisation. In addition, the project is aimed at creating awareness on the importance of traditional medicines in our primary health delivery system,” Nhema said. He noted that there was need to adequately address the protection of community knowledge and rights. “In particular, let us ensure that issues relating to formulation of appropriate polices for traditional medicines, access to genetic resources, protection of community knowledge and rights are adequately addressed and that an appropriate benefit-sharing mechanism system is developed so that our communities benefit,” he said. Nhema said there was need for sound management of medicinal plants as well as developing a fair and equitable benefit-sharing mechanism derived from medicinal plants. He added that many people in developing countries such as Zimbabwe rely on herbal medicine to meet their primary health needs. “The World Health Organisation estimates that about four billion people, which form about 80 percent of people in developing countries, depend on traditional medicines to meet their primary health care needs,” he said, adding that the role played by traditional medicines should be recognised. The workshop sought to facilitate discussions on issues raised in the draft legal framework “Managing Traditional Plants’ Bio-diversity”. The draft document addresses issues such as access to genetic resources, development of a system that rewards the holders of knowledge, conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants and other genetic resources. This was the third workshop held in Manicaland and Matabeleland South provinces to enable stakeholders to contribute to the development of an appropriate legal framework for managing medicinal plants’ bio-diversity.

April 2006
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