Sunday Times

Hunters, game ranch­ers and the multi­bil­lion-rand muti in­dus­try

- Health · Pharmaceutical Industry · Medications · Medicine · Traditional Medicine · Health Care · Industries · Pharmacology · Alternative Medicine · World Health Organization · Canada · France · Germany · Italy · China · India · Japan · Asia

● The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) says tra­di­tional medicines con­tinue to be used in ev­ery coun­try in some ca­pac­ity as part of a global mar­ket val­ued at more than a tril­lion rands.

A 2011 study by WHO re­searchers Molly Meri Robin­son and Xiaorui Zhang es­ti­mates that in much of the de­vel­op­ing world, 70% to 95% of peo­ple still rely on tra­di­tional medicine for pri­mary health care.

They es­ti­mate the global mar­ket to be worth about $83bn (about R1.2-tril­lion) a year, with a growth rate of 10% to 20% a year.

Most of these tra­di­tional medicines are de­rived from herbs and plants, but in­clude some an­i­mal parts and min­er­als.

The WHO es­ti­mates that at least 25% of all mod­ern medicines are de­rived — ei­ther di­rectly or in­di­rectly — from medic­i­nal plants, pri­mar­ily through the ap­pli­ca­tion of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to tra­di­tional knowl­edge.

Tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, for ex­am­ple, has been used to di­ag­nose, treat and pre­vent ill­ness for more than 2,500 years.

With cer­tain classes of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, such as an­ti­tu­moral and an­timi­cro­bial medicines, the WHO says the per­cent­age of plant-de­rived ma­te­rial may be as high as 60% — but in many de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing na­tions, tra­di­tional medicine prod­ucts are still not of­fi­cially recog­nised un­der the law.

Nev­er­the­less, tra­di­tional medicines are used widely as pre­scrip­tion or over­the-counter med­i­ca­tions, for self­med­i­ca­tion, as home reme­dies, or as di­etary sup­ple­ments and health foods.

In some in­dus­tri­alised na­tions the use of tra­di­tional med­i­ca­tion is also sig­nif­i­cant, with Canada, France, Ger­many and Italy re­port­ing that be­tween 70% and 90% of their pop­u­la­tions have at one time used tra­di­tional medicines un­der the ti­tles “com­ple­men­tary”, “al­ter­na­tive” or “non­con­ven­tional”.

“This is per­haps not sur­pris­ing given that un­til the mid­dle of the 20th cen­tury and the ad­vent of so-called ‘mod­ern medicines’ (start­ing with the com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of peni­cillin in 1943), tra­di­tional medicines were the only medicines,” say Robin­son and Zhang.

China, In­dia and Ja­pan are re­ported to have the high­est per capita con­sump­tion of tra­di­tional medicine in Asia, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study pub­lished in the Pharma Re­view jour­nal.

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 ?? Pic­ture: Halden Krog ?? War­wick Junc­tion in Dur­ban is a pop­u­lar muti mar­ket.
Pic­ture: Halden Krog War­wick Junc­tion in Dur­ban is a pop­u­lar muti mar­ket.

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