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ESSENTIAL DRUGS MONITOR. 1991; (11):15-7.The WHO Programme on Traditional Medicine has joined WHO's global program on drug management and policies because there is a need for recognition that an adequate technological infrastructure must be in place to maximize plants for their medicinal value, especially in the context of primary health care (PHC). PHC places traditional medicine high on its list of priorities and emphasizes the availability and use of appropriate drugs. For example, countries should distribute seeds or plants to be cultivated in home or community gardens and taken as infusions. Scientists have not studied most medicinal plants which can be a rich potential resource for developing countries. Countries should apply known and effective technologies to meet health needs in a culturally acceptable manner and to promote self reliance. They must 1st strengthen data gathering and analysis capabilities needed for economic mapping of medicinal flora, then develop data centers on medicinal plants and plant derived products, such as the WHO Collaborating Center in Chicago. Clinical research should focus on the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines used by traditional health practitioners and on developing antiinfective agents. For example, 2 WHO agencies are collaborating on identifying, preparing, and testing extracts for medicinal plants for antiHIV capabilities. WHO favors developing the knowledge and skills of traditional health practitioners within the framework of PHC. Further, interregional workshops promote selection and use of traditional medicine in national PHC programs. Since there continue to be much public interest in medicinal plants, accurate information must be disseminated to the public and health professionals so they can know both the potential benefits and harmful effects of these remedies.
In: Bannerman RH, Burton J, Ch'en Wen-Chieh. Traditional medicine and health care coverage: a reader for health administrators and practitioners. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization, 1983. 184-93.It has been estimated that from 25 to 75 thousand species of higher (flowering) plants exist on earth. Of these only about 1% are acknowledged through scientific studies to have real therapeutic value when used in extract form by humans. A computerized data base on the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products is available. The data base is maintained in the Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, University of Illinois, at the Medical Center, and has been given the acronym NAPRALERT (Natural Products ALERT). A systematic surveillance of the world literature on the chemistry and pharmacology of natural products has been in progress since 1975. In addition, a substantial amount of retrospective information has been acquired and computerized on selected genera of plants and on the pharmacological activities of natural products. These retrospective searches extend back into the mid 1700s. The major fields covered in the NAPRALERT system are 1) the organism record; 2) work types; 3) compound record; 4) pharmacology record; and 5) demographic record. There are 2 major areas in which traditional medicine can be served through the use of NAPRALERT: data retrieval and problem solving. Since most problems in traditional medicine are regional ones, it is possible to program the NAPRALERT data base to respond primarily to questions concerning plants of a specific country, or within a given continent. Recently the NAPRALERT base has been made available to individuals, industrial firms, academic institutions and government agencies with a modest fee calculated on the basis of actual computer time required to generate data output, the cost of copying the material and the mailing costs. In the near future, NAPRALERT will be approaching international funding agencies to enlist their cooperation in financing a 10 year program that will allow them to computerize all of the world literature on natural products as far back as 1900. This will be an enormous effort, which cannot be effectively accomplished without direct cooperation from interested scientists and institutions in developing countries. A plan for obtaining that objective is outlined.
In: Bannerman RH, Burton J, Ch'en Wen-Chieh. Traditional medicine and health care coverage: a reader for health administrators and practitioners. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization, 1983. 194-206.There is a genuine interest now being taken in phytotherapy and medicinal plants throughout the world. In industrialized countries there is a trend of going back to nature or wanting to combat the chemical pollution of the body provoked by inopportune chemotherapy or by the misuse of convenience drugs of chemical origin; third world countries are primarily concerned with providing their peoples with adequate coverage of their essential drug needs. A new type phytotherapy is proposed, to produce phytotherapeutic preparations for use in modern medical practice from the resources of traditional medication. In view of difficulties experienced by developing countries in meeting their needs for essential drugs, 4 measures might be taken to encourage utilization for primary health care of their vast local resources: 1) a real health policy option at national and regional level; 2) determination of priorities regarding health problems and definition of possible solutions; 3) goal-oriented applied scientific research on medicinal plants, incorporating properly planned programs; 4) effective implementation of these programs with regard to technical and financial resources and appropriate personnel. Cooperation among developing countries, with the industrialized countries and with organizations of the United Nations system is recommended. A table illustrates integrated overall organization.
In: Bannerman RH, Burton J, Ch'en Wen-Chieh. Traditional medicine and health care coverage: a reader for health administrators and practitioners. Geneva, Switzerland, World Health Organization, 1983. 236-78.The various systems of traditional medicine in the countries of the Western Pacific Regions have several characteristics, including a long history, usually dating back many centuries. The resources in medicinal plants are rich, especially in the subtropical and tropical zones, although their development in different countries is unequal. While accepted by the general population, particularly among rural inhabitants, traditional medicine is often rejected or ignored by modern medical practitioners and by the more affluent and educated classes in some countries. Practices observed in the region follow 1 of 2 patterns. 1 model is highly institutionalized, with formal academic training in a variety of disciplines in recognized schools, professional associations, and official recognition. The Chinese system and Hindu medicine practiced in Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and Australia follow this pattern. The 2nd pattern is less well defined and institutionalized but nevertheless deeply rooted in the culture of the particular community in which it is practiced. The role of traditional healers in the region; the Chinese system of traditional medicine; traditional medicine in China today including the practice of acupuncture; research in herbal drugs; traditional Chinese medicine in other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, and Japan; and folk and tribal medicines in the Philippines and rural Malaysia and South Pacific countries such as Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, and Fiji are discussed. WHO stimulates the development of traditional medicine in the region by supporting research, training traditional practitioners and encouraging their integration into health care systems as well as their participation in information sharing publications and activities.