Health and Medicine


First Nations leaders hail deal that lets B.C. bands blend cultural and traditional knowledge with health-care programs
The Canadian Press, 21 October 2013

VANCOUVER, CANADA: First Nations leaders celebrated a landmark health-care accord with the provincial and federal governments at a ceremony in Vancouver. The agreement — the first of its kind in Canada — allows B.C. aboriginal bands to incorporate cultural and traditional knowledge into health-care programs and services including community programs and addictions treatment. Read the article …

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Traditional knowledge meets R&D in French Polynesia
SciDev.Net, 12 October 2013

PARIS, FRANCE: A “unique living laboratory” that combines conventional science and traditional knowledge in the Pacific has delivered valuable development leads, but may now be under threat, a meeting held by France’s Institute of Research for Development (IRD) has heard. The benefits of such research informed by local knowledge in French Polynesia include the development of drugs for a foodborne illness that climate change may soon allow to spread to other parts of the world and working to save a local medicinal plant from the brink of extinction. Indigenous knowledge and practices have benefited from research the IRD has run in the country and have also helped to inform the institute’s research and development (R&D) programmes, according to a book released at the Paris meeting last week (3 October). Fifty Years of Research for Development in French Polynesia (50 ans de recherche pour le développement en Polynésie française) gives an overview of the research the IRD has carried out since its establishment in the archipelago, highlighting the symbiotic relationship between R&D and indigenous knowledge there. Read the article … Further information on the book [in French] …

The Guide for the Perplexed Entering the Maze of Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore
Anne Gut and Bruno Vitale, September 2013

Authored by two scientists and published under a Creative Commons license, this unusual e-book aims to help “readers/fellow-travellers” to “find a useful and interesting exploratory path through … the huge and ill-defined genetic resources and traditional knowledge and folklore space” and “to find a satisfactory way out of it, at the end.” The authors note they do not imply that the only way to visit and explore these issues is theirs; but they “immodestly believe that the exploratory trip” they propose “will be more amusing and, being less serious, more intensely useful.” Following an introduction to the guide and the methodology used, chapters explore: the present situation, IPRs on one side, TK on the other side; the origins and motivations at the roots of WHO’s involvement in traditional medical knowledge (TMK); TMK in all of its glory and obscurities; loss of control on the TMK methodological paradigm; from TMK to GRTKF and perhaps GRTKFR; alternatives to IPRs?; and conclusions. The authors can be contacted at twokamikaze2@yahoo.com. Download the e-book [doc] … Read an IP Watch article on the e-book …

First session of the Regional Conference on Population and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean
12-15 August 2013 (Montevideo, Uruguay)

Representatives of 38 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean adopted the “Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development,” a wide-ranging agreement on priority actions on several issues, including access to sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, and the rights of indigenous peoples. In a section entitled “Indigenous Peoples: Interculturalism and Rights,” the contribution of indigenous peoples of the region to development and to the conservation of the planet is reaffirmed, noting that all peoples contribute to the diversity and richness of civilizations and cultures, which constitute the common heritage of humanity. The agreement recognizes the urgent need to respect and promote the territorial rights of indigenous peoples as a prerequisite for the development of their identity and autonomy, and the need to protect and respect their collective rights. It is agreed to: respect and implement the provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as ILO Convention no. 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, adopting legal frameworks and formulating the policies necessary for their implementation, with the full participation of indigenous peoples; guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to health, including sexual and reproductive rights, as well as their right to their own traditional medicines and health practices; respect and guarantee the territorial rights of indigenous peoples, with special attention to the challenges presented by extractive industries, and design policies that facilitate free, prior and informed consultation; adopt, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, the measures needed to ensure the protection against all forms of violence and discrimination of indigenous women, boys, girls, adolescents and young people; guarantee indigenous peoples’ right to communication and information; and participate actively, with provision for the inclusion of indigenous peoples in national delegations, in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in September 2014, as well as in other relevant international forums. Download the consensus [pdf] …

First Nation knowledge aids in quest for anti-cancer compounds
Lab Canada news, 1 August 2013

ALBERTA, CANADA: In the native prairie grasses of southern Alberta, University of Lethbridge biological sciences researcher Dr. Roy Golsteyn is looking for new cancer treatments – and by inviting help from First Nations traditional knowledge practitioners, he is hoping his quest is significantly aided. The project is the first search for anti-cancer agents based on First Nations traditional knowledge within Alberta. In a meeting with Piikani Nation elder Conrad Littleleaf, Golsteyn came to an important realization: combining his quest for a new anti-cancer compound with Littleleaf’s traditional First Nations knowledge could be key in a critical discovery. Read the article …

The role of traditional medicine practice in primary health care within Aboriginal Australia: a review of the literature
Stefanie J. Oliver, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, volume 9, 2013, doi: 10.1186/1746-4269-9-46

The author argues that the practice of traditional Aboriginal medicine within Australia is at risk of being lost due to the impact of colonisation. Displacement of people from traditional lands as well as changes in family structures affecting passing on of cultural knowledge are two major examples of this impact. Prior to colonisation traditional forms of healing, such as the use of traditional healers, healing songs and bush medicines were the only source of primary health care. It is unclear to what extent traditional medical practice remains in Australia in 2013 within the primary health care setting, and how this practice sits alongside the current biomedical health care model. An extensive literature search was performed from a wide range of literature sources in attempt to identify and examine both qualitatively and quantitatively traditional medicine practices within Aboriginal Australia today. Whilst there is a lack of academic literature and research on this subject the literature found suggests that traditional medicine practice in Aboriginal Australia still remains and the extent to which it is practiced varies widely amongst communities across Australia. This variation was found to depend on association with culture and beliefs about disease causation, type of illness presenting, success of biomedical treatment, and accessibility to traditional healers and bush medicines. Traditional medicine practices were found to be used sequentially, compartmentally and concurrently with biomedical healthcare. Understanding more clearly the role of traditional medicine practice, as well as looking to improve and support integrative and governance models for traditional medicine practice, could have a positive impact on primary health care outcomes for Aboriginal Australia. Read the article …

TKDL to sign agreements with more countries, add one lakh more formulations
Pharmabiz.com, 18 July 2013

NEW DELHI, INDIA: India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has already signed access agreements with countries including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Japan and Germany, and negotiations are under way with New Zealand and some other countries. TKDL is also planning to include additional one lakh formulations from Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha. Another move is to make it available to publicly funded research and development institutions for promoting research in the field. Read the article …

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