UP Manila creates digital library for traditional Filipino health practices

The University of the Philippines in Manila has developed a digital library of the country’s traditional practices on health and healing to prevent them from being patented by private companies.

digital library

The Philippine Traditional Knowledge Digital Library on Health (TKDL-Health) will also protect indigenous peoples’ traditional healing practices, the Department of Science and Technology said in a statement.

The TKDL-Health website helps prevent private entities from laying exclusive claim to the therapeutic practices or medicinal products of indigenous groups by creating proof of ownership for the traditional knowledge, Dr. Isidro C. Sia, Institute of Herbal Medicine (IHM) director at University of the Philippines Manila – National Institutes of Health (UPM-NIH) and head of the Philippine TKDL-Health program, said.

Sia cited India’s successful use of their own TKDL website to revoke a US patent on turmeric as a great example on how TKDL can be used as evidence for the ownership of the traditional knowledge in the Philippines.

The TKDL is consisted of databases of information regarding traditional knowledge on health, illness, and healing gathered from the documentary studies done among indigenous peoples and other cultural communities.

For instance, it supports information on 13,900 medicinal plants. Through the program, researchers and community members can work together as partners to catalogue the folk traditions in health, and in the process, advocate for the protection of the cultural legacy of the Filipinos.

The TKDL-Health is a project supported by the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST), the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC), and the IHM, UPM-NIH.

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