Traditional Medicine – Legal Recognition of Traditional Health Practitioners


“This policy brief is about advocating legal recognition of Traditional Health Practitioners by their governments and recommends massive public investment in successful models of promoting traditional medical practices. Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) have a key role in primary health care, treating diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and other parasitic conditions, diarrhoea, and several chronic and lifestyle diseases. Cultural sensitivity and intercultural dialogue are crucial if THPs are to reach their full potential.”

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Celebrating Healing Heritage

Summary of the proceedings of International Healers Exchange, Conference on Traditional Medicine for Sustainable Healthcare and Policy Writeshop 8-22 November 2009 (Bangalore, India)

Traditional medicine plays a crucial role in meeting demands of primary health care in many developing countries and thus occupies a key space in contemporary community health education. It is increasingly becoming popular in many developed countries as well and functions under the title of complementary and alternative medicine. The International Healers Exchange and Conference on Traditional Medicine and Sustainable Healthcare was hosted by the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT)  in November 2009, in Bangalore, India. The event was jointly sponsored by the Department of AYUSH in India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare , ETC-COMPAS, UNDP Equator Initiative, Ecoagriculture Partners, UNU-IAS, and the Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health . This report includes a summary of the proceedings of the exchange, conference and policy writeshop, as well as the declaration adopted by participants, and agreed follow-up activities. Download the pdf document


Traditional Knowledge in Policy and Practice : Approaches to Development and Human Wellbeing

Edited by Suneetha M Subramanian and Balakrishna Pisupati

Traditional knowledge (TK) has contributed immensely to shaping development and human well-being. Its influence spans a variety of sectors, including agriculture, health, education and governance. However, in today’s world, TK is increasingly underrepresented or under-utilized. Further, while the applicability of TK to human and environmental welfare is well-recognized, collated information on how TK contributes to different sectors is not easily accessible.This book focuses on the relevance of TK to key environment- and development-related sectors, discusses the current debates within each of these sectors and presents suggestions as to how TK can be effectively integrated with conventional science and policy. A valuable resource to researchers, academics and policymakers, Traditional knowledge in policy and practice provides a comprehensive overview of TK, and its links and contributions to social, economic, environmental, ethical and political issues. For further information see


Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Community Health: Strengthening Linkages

Written by Unnikrishnan P.M. and M.S. Suneetha

Healthy ecosystems and biodiversity are sources of various services that nurture life and enhance human well-being. While the relevance of biodiversity to mainstream health is clear, as seen in commercial use of biological resources by pharmaceuticals, their relevance to the health care of people in insufficiently connected and economically disadvantaged regions of the world can be considered to be much more profound. These regions are rich in resources, but they lack in sufficient public health care infrastructure and personnel. While there are several initiatives at the local level that exemplify good practice in achieving both sustainable use of natural resources for traditional medical purposes, as well as accessibility for marginal and local communities. However, such good practices are still restricted to pockets of project activity. Download the pdf document


Innovation in Local and Global Learning Systems for Sustainability: Traditional Knowledge and Biodiversity – Learning Contributions of the Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development

Edited by Unnikrishnan Payyappallimana and Zinaida Fadeeva

Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) were developed as sites for participatory learning and action within the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD), opening up more collaborative and inclusive learning spaces towards more just and sustainable ways of life now and in the future. Some of the contours of these emergent education processes of collaborative learning-to-change as they relate to traditional knowledge (TK) and biodiversity are developing in many RCE contexts today. The Education for Sustainable Development Programme at UNU-IAS has worked with RCEs worldwide to create a new publication showcasing a series of case studies in this regard. Download the pdf document


Biodiversity and Community Health: connecting and linking nature, knowledge and practices on the ground

The interlinkages between biodiversity and health are well recognized. However, the need and potential of strengthening traditional understanding and practices related to health at the community level is an area that has not been sufficiently addressed in planning processes. Unlike mainstream health interventions, this involves a comprehensive assessment of various contributing factors to health, including biological resources, knowledge and human resources, socio-cultural resources and related policy processes. It involves attention to medicinal plants and faunal products, dietary and nutritional aspects, access to these resources, ecosystem integrity, landscape values, rights to practitioners to practice, opportunities for livelihood enhancement among others. Download the pdf document


Bio-enterprises, Endogenous Development and Well-being 

Written by Suneetha M. Subramanian, Wim Hiemstra and Bas Verschuuren

While enhancing human well-being is a policy objective, defining various components that lead to human well-being vary at the macro level and at the level of local communities. This dichotomy in perspectives, due to differences in cultural norms and worldviews between the two levels, leads to poor implementation of policy activities. This policy brief examines these challenges in the context of establishment of bio-enterprises to meet development priorities. Download the document


Diversifying food and diets – Using agricultural biodiversity to improve nutrition and health

Published by Bioversity International

This volume explores the current state of knowledge on the role of agricultural biodiversity in improving diets, nutrition and food security. Using examples and case studies from around the globe, the book explores current strategies for improving nutrition and diets and identifies key research and implementation gaps that need to be addressed to successfully promote the better use of agricultural biodiversity for rural and urban populations and societies in transition. Download the whole book or each chapter


Production and processing of foods as core aspects of nutrition-sensitive agriculture and sustainable diets (Food Security, November 2013)

Written by Gudrun B. Keding, Katja Schneider and Irmgard Jordan

Some forms of malnutrition are partly due to agriculture not having nutrient outputs as an explicit goal. A better understanding of what is required from agricultural production and food processing for healthy and sustainable diets is needed. Possible interactions among constituents of the food chain – human health, the environment, knowledge and education – should be considered from a systemic perspective. In order to achieve the aims of nutrition-sensitive agriculture, it is necessary to comprehend its complexity and the factors that influence it. This will require a trans-disciplinary approach, which will include the three sectors agriculture, nutrition and health at research, extension and political levels. Download the article

sustainable diets and biod

Sustainable diets and biodiversity – Directions and solutions for policy, research and action

Edited by Barbara Burlingame and Dr. Sandro Dernini 

This book presents the current state of thought on the common path of sustainable diets and biodiversity. It consists of 4 chapters which look at sustainable diets and biodiversity through sustainable food production and consumption which is illustrated with ten cases studies. The book resulted from an International Scientific Symposium “Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets: United Against Hunger” organized jointly by FAO and Bioversity International, held at FAO, in Rome, from 3 to 5 November 2010, within the World Food Day/Week programme, on the occasion of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. Download the whole book  or each chapter

metrics of biov

Metrics of sustainable diets and food systems (Bioversity International fact sheets) 

Written by Jessica Fanzo, Bruce Cogill and Federico Mattei

Policy makers and consumers are challenging the scientific community to come up with ways to measure the environmental impact of the foods we eat.  This Brief describes a challenging and innovative research agenda implemented by Bioversity and its partners to describe and measure sustainable diets and food systems.  The Brief builds on the early work of FAO and Bioversity in understanding sustainable diets  and identifies the rich cultural history of our food and the very real concerns about access and cost is not lost in our mission to improve dietary quality for the poor with the ultimate goal of improving nutrition and health. The study of sustainable diets is as relevant to the challenges of undernutrition as it is with dietary transition and nutrition related chronic diseases and obesity. Download the fact sheet

role of wild-bioversity

Role of wild, neglected and underutilized foods in reducing the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet in the Eastern region of Baringo district, Kenya 27 February 2013

Written by Bruce Cogill et al. 

Poster presenting the results of the Bill and Melinda Gates funded phase I project: ‘Role of wild, neglected and underutilized foods in reducing the cost of a nutritionally adequate diet in the eastern region of Baringo District, Kenya’ in collaboration with Bioversity International, Save the Children UK and Museums of Kenya.  The poster was presented at Grand Challenges Exploration. Download the poster

bioversity stratgey

Bioversity International nutrition strategy 2011-2021 [Summary] – Resilient food and nutrition systems: analyzing the role of agricultural biodiversity in enhancing human nutrition and health

Edited by Bioversity International

Bioversity International’s nutrition research over the past several years has focused on the role and impact of traditional foods on dietary diversity and livelihoods. The research agenda is being expanded under Bioversity’s 2011-2021 Nutrition Strategy to develop strong methodological and empirical evidence on how agricultural biodiversity contributes to dietary diversity and nutrition with downstream livelihood and ecosystem benefits. The new strategy focuses on food and nutritional system approaches to improving human nutrition and health. The major goal of the strategy and subsequent programme is to promote the use of agricultural biodiversity within food production systems and provide nutritionally-rich food sources that contribute to dietary diversity and, potentially, better nutrition and health. Our major focus is in rural and peri-urban communities in the developing world. (Text taken from the book) Download the book