Traditional medicine and the principle of non-discrimination at the heart of next International Bioethics Committee
UNESCO media release, 5 September 2012

PARIS, FRANCE: Traditional medicine and its ethical implications, and the principle of non-discrimination and non-stigmatization are the focus of discussions at the 19th session of the International Bioethics Committee and its Joint Session with the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee, held from 10-14 September 2012, at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, France. The meeting is addressing a draft report on traditional medicine and its ethical implications, that invites governments to focus on the right of every human being to access quality healthcare and on the principle of respect for cultural diversity and pluralism. According to the draft report, the consideration by the Committee of the ethical implications of traditional medicine is directly linked to UNESCO’s mandate to promote cultural diversity. It is noted that traditional medical knowledge and its application can be highly codified and systematized, even institutionalized, with the consequence that its transmission is often taken over by State medical institutions or jointly by institutions and specialized families or lineages. In other countries, however, traditional medical knowledge remains small-scale, localized and rather informal, based on the experience accumulated by specific lineages of healers. It is often kept secret and mainly orally transmitted.

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