Traditional medicine ’important for neglected diseases’, by Priya Shetty

Friday, June 3, 2005

Research into traditional medicine is vital for to tackling diseases that affect the world’s poor, according to intellectual property and health specialists who met this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

The closed discussion of stakeholders from academia, industry and non-governmental organisations took place at a meeting organised by the World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health on 30-31 May. An open forum was held on 1 June.

Several delegates said that the international health community could not afford to ignore the potential of traditional medicines ? used by 80 per cent of people living in developing countries because they often do not have access to, or cannot afford to pay for, modern medicines.

Traditional medicine has also become a useful resource for pharmaceutical companies searching for new therapeutic compounds. But the issues surrounding intellectual property governing such indigenous resources are complex, and international bodies such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are still working out the rules for benefit sharing and patents.
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Source: SciDev.Net