Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Community Health: Strengthening Linkages

April 10, 2013 in Biodiversity and Health, Community Health/Policy, Traditional Medicine

 Author: Unnikrishnan P.M. Suneetha M.S.- Collaborators: United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Nairobi Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore ETC-COMPAS, Leusden United Nations Development Programme-Equator Initiative, New York
Dates: 2012 Document Type: Policy Report Source: United Nations University – Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS)
  Discipline and Theory Policy and Law
Key Words: Community Health, Traditional Medicines,  Policy Strategy, CBD Aichi Target, ILO, WHO, Indigenous Peoples UN Declaration, Biodiversity and Health
Key Messages: “While the relevance of biodiversity to mainstream health is clear, as seen in commercial use of biological resources by pharmaceuticals, their relevance to the health care of people in insufficiently connected and economically disadvantaged regions of the world can be considered to be much more profound. These regions are rich in resources (such as medicinal or nutritional and related knowledge), but they lack in sufficient public health care infrastructure and personnel.” ” Given the recent attention on universal and improved health care access for all, there is a renewed interest to strengthen the potential of traditional medicine and health practitioners to fulfill this role. As the medical armamentarium primarily consists of biological resources, it is important to also ensure their sustainable use. There are several initiatives at the macro and local levels that exemplify good practice in achieving both sustainable use of natural resources for traditional medical purposes, as well as accessibility for marginal and local communities. However, such good practices are still restricted to pockets of project activity, and it is time that their relevance in global health and related policies receives deserved recognition.” “Ensuring sustained availability of biological resources and sufficient access to good quality health care for all members of society is a clear and necessary objective. Sustainability and equity are closely connected, especially in rural communities of developing countries, as health care is primarily delivered by native healers or community health workers or householders using biological resources. Given the low reach of modern doctors and health care facilities, and the knowledge and experience possessed by knowledgeable local actors, it becomes imperative to involve the latter more actively in health care delivery systems. Further, protecting such knowledge from erosion and misappropriation also needs to be addressed urgently.” (p 9) “The report is organized as follows: Section 1 elaborates the policy context of community health, environment and development. In Section 2, challenges related to biological resource use, traditional knowledge and local level health delivery systems are highlighted, along with case studies on how these issues may be addressed effectively. Section 3 concludes with some suggested action plans and policy directions that will help” (p. 16)  .
Related Policy Issues
  • Policy/Management Priority #2
    "Conclusions - Potential Strategies": "• Assessment methods to inventorize resources and knowledge used in health care – Conduct integrated assessments of biological resources and traditional health practices in an ecological and community context. This would enable prioritizing conservation and development strategies and could capture details that may not figure into mainstream assessments. The inventorizing process would also entail identification, documentation, participatory and interdisciplinary assessment and promotion of relevant practices for rural community health and well-being, and strengthen conservation and sustainable harvest approaches. • Knowledge validation, generation and use – Develop and promote appropriate integrative methodologies for assuring quality, safety and efficacy of traditional ...... Read More

  • Policy Measure #2
    Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO) 1957, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OHCHR) 1966, Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO) – revised in 1989, UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNPFII) 2006, CBD/COP10 Decision 20, CBD Strategic Plan 2011–2020 (Aichi Biodiversity Target 14), World Health Organization (WHO) Traditional Medicine Strategy 1978, 1995, 2002, 2002–2005, 2008 ... Read More