Medicinal Plants and Primary Health Care: Part 2. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 011 (1991)
(1991; 3 pages)


This article continues Olayiwola Akerele’s discussion of medicinal plants and their broader application from the tenth issue of the Essential Drugs Monitor. The WHO Programme on Traditional Medicines has become part of a WHO global programme concerned with drug management and policies. This move recognizes medicinal plants and other traditional medicines as sources of medical value and the need for an adequate technological infrastructure for their potential to be realized. Because only a fraction of Earth’s plants have been studied, there is great potential for finding new medicines through research and cultivating rich resources in many developing nations. Technology must be used to transform traditional trade into a modern industrial practice. There has been considerable international cooperation in the field of traditional medicines. In 1987, the Third UNIDO Consultation on the Pharmaceutical Industry agreed to assist developing countries in trials on plant-derived products, conduct educational programmes, and organize regional consultations. In the following years, several international conferences and workshops have discussed the role of medicinal plants in industry and the need for greater research and legislation in the area of traditional medicine. The WHO Programme on Traditional Medicines took an active role in collaborating with member states in the review of national policies, sponsoring and engaging in research, equipping primary health care workers with the knowledge and skills of traditional health practitioners, and disseminating novel information on traditional medicines. Akerele concludes by stating that medicinal plants could be a means of ensuring the availability of drugs for primary health care systems. He also urges countries to take safety into consideration when training staff and in the application of standards, specifications, and good manufacturing practices for traditional medicines. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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