Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to welcome all distinguished participants attending the Inter-Regional Workshop on Intellectual Property Rights in the Context of Traditional Medicine today.
Nowadays, many countries around the world are competing hard to develop their own society and economy, especially commerce. Thus, it is the right time and very essential for patents to be addressed. Though the developed countries are in a more advantageous position - they have high technology offering more potential - they, too, are facing problems. They do not want anyone to copy their intellectual property. As a result, they have developed patent legislation. Anyone who would like to copy, he or she must get approval and pay the fee first, as well as having to agree the contract and conditions, on which the developed countries have the monopoly.
By contrast, the developing countries are facing problems, learning the high technology from the developed countries. So, the developing countries are always in trouble with the patent law, because some kinds of medicines are very expensive. They cannot produce them by themselves, so they have to depend on developed countries.
Developing countries have their own intellectual property of culture and indigenous knowledge that should be organized. This includes the concept of promoting the use of herbal medicine at low cost. It is only fair to do so.
I believe that with the interest of the World Health Organization in intellectual property rights protection for traditional medicine, and its financial support to mobilize so many countries like these to work together to develop strategies for protecting traditional medicine knowledge, resources and biodiversity, there will be fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of using medicinal plants in the future.
In closing, on behalf of the Ministry of Public Health, I would like to express my appreciation to the World Health Organization for its kind support and cooperation as well as to all the other participating countries for their contributions - all of which have made this useful workshop possible.
May I once again extend a warm welcome to all of you as well as wish you a successful and productive Workshop and a pleasant stay in Thailand.