Asian Nations Join to Create Traditional Medicine Network
By Editorial Staff
This September, representatives of 14 nations from Asia and the Middle East met in Wuhan, in the central Chinese province of Hubei, to discuss new ways of sharing information on various aspects of traditional medicines and herbal technology, and to foster more cooperation among institutions, businesses and government agencies.
The result of the meeting was the establishment of the Asian-Pacific Traditional Medicine Network (APTMNet), a computer-based network that will allow each nation to share information on native forms of medicine, offer educational courses, and market their products to new avenues.
"The network will help experts communicate indigenous knowledge on their traditional medicines, hold training programs in the field, and help members to market traditional medicines," said Chen Shuting, director of the Chinese Web site for APTMNet.
The network is the brainchild of the Asia and Pacific Center for the Transfer of Technology (APCTT), a regional institution created under the auspices of the United Nations. The objective of APCTT is to strengthen technology transfer capabilities in the region, and to facilitate the import and export of environmentally sound technologies to and from member countries.
The APTMNet's current members include Bangladesh; China; India; Indonesia; Iran; Malaysia; Mongolia; Nepal; Pakistan; the Philippines; South Korea; Sri Linka; Thailand; and Vietnam. Under an agreement reached at the meeting, each country will establish a national "nodal center," or mirror site, as part of the network, for quick access and communication. Member countries will be responsible for the construction and operation of their own sites, while the APCTT will sponsor training programs and academic exchanges between members.
According to a statement on the APTMNet's Web site, there are four distinct benefits to having an international traditional medicine network:
It showcases traditional medical and herb medicinal technology in Asia and the Pacific region and publicizes it to the rest of the world, which could extend the influence of traditional medical and herb medicinal technology.
It can strengthen the position of Asian-Pacific traditional herbal medicine in the international medicine market, and enhance competition in the production of traditional herbal medicines.
It will promote the exchange of traditional herbal medicine information and technology among Asian-Pacific countries, and between those countries and the rest of the world.
It will meet a growing need for natural medicines in the global market.
China is the first country to establish a node to the network. Its site contains almost a dozen databases covering such topics as traditional medicine resources; national standards and laws; patents on traditional medicines; and a listing of pharmaceutical firms in China that make traditional medicines. Chinese officials have also offered technological support to help other member countries establish and maintain their sites on the network.
Developments are underway in other countries, as well. In India, the Department of Indian Systems of Medicine will serve as the country's agency to the network. A subregional group (India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand) also has been formed under APTMNet to share information and technology.
The APTMNet is available in both English and Chinese, with other language-specific areas to be published as more countries come on line. For more information, visit the network's Web site (www.apctt-tm.net).