The African Union and World Health Organization must do something to draft a model law so that traditional knowledge of medicinal plants can be preserved in African countries.
This request was made at a conference held at Brazzaville, Congo, last week. It is widely known that almost 80- percent of the African population relies on traditional medicine men for their health needs and researchers are increasingly looking to tap into this knowledge to produce new drugs. But laws to control access to indigenous knowledge and biological resources are few and far between and sometimes this means that the people are left in the lurch as unsavory elements creep in. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the meeting called for better protection of intellectual property rights of the African people. The WHO's regional director for Africa, Luis Sambo said that new policies should take into consideration both those holding traditional knowledge and the communities that could benefit from it. The draft document called "Policy and legislative guidelines for the protection and promotion of traditional and indigenous medical knowledge in Africa', will be released shortly.