Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Community Health: Strengthening the Linkages
Unnikrishnan P.M. and M.S. Suneetha
UNU-IAS, 23 February 2012

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN: In this article, which is based on a UNU-IAS policy report that will be launched in 2012, the authors examine the linkages between biodiversity, traditional knowledge and health. Noting that about 70% of pharmaceutical products developed over 25 years are still based on natural product development, while regions rich in resources, including biodiversity and related knowledge, are marked by lack of sufficient public health care, they highlight the renewed interest to strengthen the potential of traditional medicine and health practitioners to improve health care. They note that clearly the focus need to be on ensuring sustained availability of biological resources and sufficient access to good quality health care for all members of society. They outline a list of issues that deserve attention, including: building awareness among different stakeholder on conservation, access to health care, and the intricacies of traditional knowledge; recognizing the knowledge and practices of native healers or traditional health practitioners; and addressing unsustainable harvesting and exploitation of biological resources. A number of focused strategies are proposed, addressing, among others: assessment methods to inventorize resources and knowledge used in health care; knowledge validation, generation and use; capacity building for different stakeholders; cross learning between different knowledge systems; and development of mechanisms for protection of traditional resources and knowledge. Read the article …