Traditional healing techniques, using indigenous medicinal plants, practiced efficiently for hundreds of years by some of India’s most elusive tribes residing in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is all set to become public. ICMR’s Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) is preparing a unique Community Biodiversity Register (CBDR) for the tribals of the Andaman and NicobarIslands that will document their traditional healing practices, use of medicinal plants, healing record, mode of preparation of plants’ parts and number of patients treated. Scientists have travelled to 11 of the 15 villages of the Car Nicobar Island, inhabited by the ancient Nicobarese tribe, documenting the use of 124 medicinal plants that are being prescribed to cure 34 different diseases. They have also interviewed 42 Traditional Knowledge Persons (TKP)/folk healers for the project, which is estimated to cost over Rs 38 lakh. The ICMR plans to acquire patents of these traditional healing techniques for the tribals. RMRC director Dr Palaru Vijayachari said, “Traditional treasures of the tribal people, like their healing techniques, need to be protected. We are documenting them so that patents can be applied for such practices. We will be documenting all medicinal plants among all accessible tribes. Scientific explanation of the use of the plant will accompany it. “Dr Vijayachari said, “Mostly these medicines made by the tribes are a combination of plants. The duration of treatment is different, and isn’t the same for all diseases. We will collect all information, scientifically validate them and then help patent them on the name of the tribal healers. Scientists are also collecting the plants and their parts used for treating ailments, and have also developed an herbal garden where some of these species are being studied. According to the Indian Patent Act, no traditional knowledge can be patented by anybody but the exclusive knowledge of the tribal/folk healers must be ascribed to them and registered in their name so that nobody can misuse that knowledge for commercial purposes without their prior permission and sharing its benefits with them. “Thus, if any new product is developed based on that knowledge and any form of Intellectual Property Right ( IPR) is taken for that, the folk/tribal healers must be included as the innovators and get due share of benefits as its co-patentees. CBDR will have a photo of the TKP and his personal details. Also, it would include the diseases being treated, local names of plants, combination of plants used and mode of preparation,” Dr Vijayachari added.
Source : The Times Of India