Medicinal Plants and Primary Health Care: An Agenda for Action. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 010 (1990)
(1990; 2 pages)


The WHO Programme on Traditional Medicines began in 1976 and encourages countries to identify aspects of traditional medicine that provide safe and effective remedies and utilise these aspects in primary health care. Programme Manager Dr. Olayiwola Akerele believes that medicinal plants, one aspect of traditional medicine, should be incorporated into primary health care. Because many individuals already use medicinal plants, they could be an effective way to alleviate problems caused by the high demand and limited availability of modern medicines in primary health care. Before inclusion into national policies and protocols, medicinal plants must be studied at local levels for effectiveness. However, although most plants with medicinal properties are found in developing nations, developed nations control the study and knowledge of these properties. Akerele suggests using ethno-medical studies including botanists, clinicians, pharmacologists, and others to assess and realize the potential of medicinal plant development. The utilisation and market of each medicinal plant and the composition and preparation of each traditional remedy should be recorded. Efforts should be made to conserve medicinal plants along with their research and utilisation. Akerele encourages departments of farming and agriculture to add medicinal plants to national resource maps and universities to include traditional medicine and medicinal plants to their curricula. Akerele concludes the first part of “Medicinal Plants and Primary Health Care” by stating priority should be given to the study and utilisation of medicinal plants. The second part of the discussion was published in the eleventh edition of the Monitor. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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