Green Convergence to PH gov’t: ‘Invest in native medicinal plants!’

Green Convergence to PH gov’t: ‘Invest in native medicinal plants!’

Environmental Coalition Green Convergence held the 352nd installment of the monthly Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum about the future of the Philippine native medicinal plant industry on July 19, 2019 (Friday) at Kamayan Restaurant, EDSA, Mandaluyong City.

Former Department of Health Secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan discussed that “Around 1500 medicinal plants from more than 13,500 plant species in the Philippines of which more than 3500 are considered indigenous.”

Unfortunately, Galvez Tan stressed, “Only 120 medicinal plants have been scientifically validated for safety and efficacy.”

“Only 10 medicinal plants have been promoted by DOH since 1993 and Philippine Institute for Traditional and Alternative Health Care since 1997,” he added.

Because of this slow promotion of the country’s medicinal plants, an estimated PhP 1.2-billion sales only were attributed to them, compared to PhP 138-billion sales of synthetic drugs. Both records were in 2013.

In fact, Dr. Francis Gomez explained, in mid-1990s to 2000s, medicinal plants had low acceptance from medical doctors due to perceptions that they are associated with ‘Quiapo herbs,’ quack, and backwardness.

“Even Philippine Medical Association stated that herbal medicines are not medicines,” Gomez exclaimed.

Gomez is the CEO and President of New Marketlink Pharmaceutical Corporation, the company behind Lagundex, made of a medicinal plant, whose success was due to persistent education campaign nationwide.

Galvez Tan noted that education campaign on Philippine medicinal plants must continue.

He presented the best medicinal plants that the country possesses: the best vegetable is malunggay (Moringa oleifera), the best spice is luyang dilaw (Curcuma longa), the best grass is takip-kuhol (Centella asiatica), the best palm is coconut (Cocos nucifera), the best stem is makabuhay (Tinospora rumphi), the best flower is ylang-ylang (Cananga adorata Lam), and the best nut is pili (Canarium ovatum Engl.).

All of which have medicinal properties that improve the health conditions of human beings, he stressed.

On the other hand, Igorot and Green Convergence Board Member Liberty Bituin argued that everything in our forests is good for our health. “From fresh air, to the fresh waters, to the stones, to the trees, and all the medicinal plants,” she enumerated, “they are all components of the indigenous ways of improving our health.”

Green Convergence President Dr. Angelina Galang called for the Philippine government to invest in the country’s natural resources and for the civil society to strengthen their campaign for this to be realized.

Since March 1990, Kamayan Para Sa Kalikasan Forum has become an institutionalized platform that enables NGO and government representatives, the media, students, teachers, church groups, and concerned citizens to discuss pressing environmental issues in the country. This month’s forum is organized by Green Convergence and is supported by Kamayan Restaurant EDSA with the assistance of the Forest Foundation Philippines.

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