Electronic Journal of Biotechnology ISSN: 0717-3458
  © 1999 by Universidad Católica de Valparaíso -- Chile
Vol. 2 No. 2, Issue of August 15, 1999

Table 3. Examples of activities in medicinal plants sponsored by non-UN and UN agencies





  • African Scientific Co-operation on Phytomedicine and Aromatic Plants - Internet home of the African pharmacopoeia.
  • Mission to promote, and facilitate the research development and commercialisation of safe, effective, and standardised phytomedicines on prudent use of African medicinal plant resources.


  • European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry sponsors biennial international symposium in medicinal chemistry
  • Objective to advance research in the different aspects of medicinal chemistry by promoting co-operation between member organisations participating in the biennial International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry.


  • European Scientific Co-operation on Phytotherapy established in 1989
  • To advance the scientific status of phytomedicines.
  • To assist with the harmonisation of their regulatory status at a European level.
  • To support and initiate clinical and experimental research in phyotmedicines.
  • To promote the acceptance of phytomedicines within the therapy of general medical practitioners.


  • Compiles, in early 1980s, initial list of 22 medicinal plants used as raw materials for drug production
  • Work is co-ordinated by the FAO Collaborating Centre, the Research Institute for Medicinal Plants, Budakalasz, Hungary
  • Commissions report on use of medicinal plants in veterinary medicine in 18 Asian countries.


  • International Federation of Associations of Defence in Phytotherapy Research and Training.
  • To unify the defence of the use medicinal plants of a pharmacomedicinal quality.
  • To promote research, practice and education, worldwide, in phytotherapy.


  • The Global Initiative for Traditional Systems of Health in co-operation with IDRC, has organised meetings on different issues in the following regions:
  • Issues special publications dealing with traditional medicine, the biodiversity of medicinal plants, traditional health care, etc.


- Recognition of emerging interest in the traditional medicine in treatment of endemic diseases such as AIDS, malaria and other parasitic diseases

- Need for community-based medicinal plant conservation and cultivation programmes

- Recognition of women as traditional practitioners of herbal medicine in need of appropriate support and training

  • Development of standardised protocols for medicinal plant drug research and safety


- Herbal and medicinal plant-based health care systems widely recognised

- Need to counteract diminishing stocks of medicinal plants through conservation and cultivation programmes

- Recognition of women as users, conservers and providers of traditional health services using herbs and medicinal plants

  • Accorded varying degree of official support in several countries

Latin America:

- Traditional healthcare knowledge (using herbs and medicinal plants)

- Concern over bioprospecting of untapped plant resources as sources of new biomolecules or genes of biopharmaceutical and agricultural significance

  • Regarded as inherent component of indigenous cultural knowledge.


  • International Council on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAPS)
  • Promotes Good Agricultural Practices for the cultivation and propagation of MAPS; development of phytopharmaceutical standards; and organises international conferences focusing on technology transfer, etc.


  • International Organisation for Chemical Sciences in Development
  • Established in 1981, and based in the USA, IOCD organises training activities in medicinal plants (Panama, 1997); traditional medicine (Nepal, 1997) and plant pharmacology (Peru, 1997)


  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund instituted the joint IUCN-WWF Plants Conservation Programme, which emphasises medicinal plants, as a major conservation is a priority.
  • First phase 1984 - 1987: The Plants Conservation Programme launched in 1984 comprised of two activity Groups:
      a. Strategic activities focusing on principles and methods for plant conservation

      b. Field projects using planned strategic principles and methods

  • Second phase 1988 - 1990: Focuses on:
      a. Development of A Guide and Strategy for Centres of Plant Diversity and their Conservation

      b. A Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy

      c. Wild plants of economic value


  • Joint wildlife monitoring programme of the World Wildlife Fund and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
  • International Network issuing authorities reports on the conservation, use, protection and trade of medicinal plants and wildlife resources (inclusive of endangered and rare species of flora and fauna in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.


  • Policy discussion on Protection of Interest in Utilisation
    of Biological Resources of Developing Countries,
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1996, resulting from the following concerns:

    -potential loss of medicinal plant biodiversity resulting from over exploitation

    -loss of potential trade and commercial revenue

    -loss of potential economic incentive for development
    of academic and scientific sustainable infrastructures

  • Development of a Policy guideline on bioprospecting and the requirements for permitting collaborative biological research and bioprospecting in the South and Southeast region

    - Latin American and Caribbean Network of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (LACINMAP)

Activity set up in 1994 through UNESCO's Programme in General Information, Caracas, Venezuela*

  • Asian and Pacific Network of Aromatic and Medicinal Plants (APINMAP)

    -Development of physical, chemical and taxonomic database of medicinal plants

    -Development of information services and products for use by Member States

Decentralised Network of following members - Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam

  • Botany 2000 is comprised of activities in Asia and Africa. Activities in Europe are confined to support of herbaria in countries in transition and reconstruction e.g. Georgia.

Activities in Africa and Asia subsume activities in predecessor networks such as the:

Botany 2000-Asia is implemented by UNESCO's New Delhi Office and focuses on the taxonomy, and biological and cultural diversity of medicinal and ornamental plants, and their protection against environmental pollution

    - Natural Products Research Network for Eastern and Central Africa (NAPRECA), and the

    - South and Central Asian Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Network (SCAMAP).

Botany 2000-Africa is implemented by UNESCO's Nairobi Office and deals with the conservation and use of the medicinal flora of Africa


  • Provides technical assistance to product development and quality control concerning market and industrial potential for essential oils, medicinal plants, and interactions between the pharmaceutical industry and traditional medicine industry.
  • Project activities in Bolivia, Ethiopia, India, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Madagascar, Nepal, Oman, Philippines,
    Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Zimbabwe.
  • Training activities in medicinal, consumer protection, and indigenous peoples concerns in the practise, use and sustainability of herbal medicines in co-operation with International Institute for Human Resources Development, USA


  • Traditional Medicine Programme. WHO operates network of 19 Collaborating Centres in ten countries: Belgium, China, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sudan, USA and Vietnam
  • Assists Member States in:

    - formulation of national policies on traditional medicine

    - evaluation of practices, safety, and efficiency of remedies

    - education of general public and upgrading of traditional and

    - modern health practitioners about proven traditional medicinal practices


  • World Wildlife Fund for Nature People and Plants Initiative (PPI) amongst other activities such as park use and woodcarving, focuses on:
  • PPI is a partnership programme incorporating inputs from WWF, UNESCO (through its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programmes and the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Surrey, UK

    - Assessments plant resources used by local communities in Uganda Pakistan and Nepal

  • Courses in ethnobotany (Kenya, Pakistan, South East Asia, Uganda)

    -Developmental activities in primary health-care in Nepal and Uganda

    -Evaluation of the current role of ethnobotany in formal and informal education in six Central American states

    -Regional and international workshops on field methods in ethnobotany (Mexico), conservation of medicinal plants (Dominican Republic), joint forest management (India), the cultural context of ethnobotany (Thailand, China) and quantitative methods in ethnobotany (Kenya)

    -Studies of the use of plant resources by women for food, fuel and medicine in Kenya, Mozambique and Uganda

  • Preparation of educational materials, including manuals on techniques in ethnobotany
* Informe Técnico PR/1994-1995/iv. 3.1.

Supported by UNESCO / MIRCEN network