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DateLine Sunday, 20 May 2007

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New Bills soon to protect indigenous medicinal resources



Tissa Karaliyadde

Around 50 Bills will be presented in Parliament this year to protect indigenous ayurvedic medicinal resources from being exploited for commercial use locally and abroad, said Minister of Indigenous Medicine Tissa Karaliyadde addressing the launch of the 'Ayurveda 2007' National Indigenous Healthcare Exhibition in Colombo.

The Minister said instead of developing and promoting ayurvedic medicine in the country, businessmen in the medical profession are exploiting ayurvedic medicinal and herbal resources for their survival.

Certain healthcare resorts and spas on the pretext of providing and promoting indigenous medical treatment have been indulging in various nefarious activities with massage parlours and brothels throughout the country, Karaliyadde said.

He said when the Bills are enacted all forms of exploitative activities which degrade the indigenous medical profession and protect the country's natural heritage will be taboo.

Today with the growing demand for ayurvedic medicinal, herbal products and therapies the world has turned its attention on Sri Lanka which has a rich biodiversity and an abundance of untapped medicinal resources.


With a large market for ayurvedic and other indigenous medicinal products the demand for more Lankan medicinal products and the need for land to cultivate will increase.

Sri Lanka is well known for practising nature-friendly treatment methods such as ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and homeopathy. The Western world has shown great interest towards nature-friendly treatment methods practised in the country and that has made the country a preferred destination among tourists, the Minister said.

The Ministry of Indigenous Medicine under the Gama Neguma Program has allocated 50 perches of land at Nikawaratiya to cultivate herbal plants. The Ministry has also started cultivating medicinal plants at Pattipola, Girandurukotte, Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura.

With a large market for ayurvedic and other indigenous medicinal products the demand for more Lankan medicinal products and the need for land to cultivate will increase, he said.

The Minister said he was happy to see six questions on Ayurveda included in last year's GCE (Ordinary Level) examination and that he plans to introduce ayurveda as a subject in the educational curriculum.

Minister of Export Development and International Trade, Prof. G. L. Peiris said herbal products were in the negative list in Lanka's Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan and after discussions with the Minister of Trade and Commerce in Pakistan these products have got access to Pakistani markets.

He said entering new and rich markets such as Ukraine, Kazerkstan and Azerbaijan should be considered in promoting Lankan indigenous medicine to the international world.

Ayurveda is not a secondary commodity to tea and gems. Its values are embedded as Ceylon Tea. Branding and promoting indigenous medicinal products will contribute to the economy, Prof. Peiris said.

The National Indigenous Healthcare Exhibition organised by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) with the Ministry of Indigenous Medicine from September 7-9 at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre, will include exhibitors from Bangladesh, Maldives, India, Pakistan Nepal, Bhutan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and many other countries in the region.

lalin@sundayobserver.lk

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