The Sunday Leader

International legal protection for Sri Lanka folk medicine

Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine – Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Industry and Commerce – Rishad Bathiudeen and President of National Chamber of Commerce – Sujeewa Samaraweera (second from right) discuss with a Sri Lankan traditional medicine exhibitor.

In a major boost to Sri Lankan folk medicine tradition, Sri Lanka announced that it is moving the centuries old system for protection under Geneva’s well-known ‘Traditional Knowledge’ regime.

“I am pleased to say that we are working with Geneva’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in the last five years to introduce intellectual property support to our traditional, indigenous medicine system,” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen on July 13 addressing the inauguration event of National Chamber of Commerce’ Ayurveda Expo 2018 at BMICH.

Sri Lanka’s very own indigenous medical practice is centuries old, and co-exists with the country’s Ayurveda practice. Joining the event were Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Rajitha Senaratne and Minister of Social Welfare and Primary Industries, Daya Gamage.

“Ayurveda practice is a long-standing tradition in Sri Lanka existing with our indigenous medicine system. Similar to our local medicine system it supports our wellness and medical tourism development as well,” said Minister Bathiudeen.

He added, “There has also been experience sharing between Ayurveda and the local medicine systems. When we say Ayurveda in Sri Lanka it sometimes includes the practice of our own, other indigenous traditional medicines as well. And it is a priority that we safeguard our local heritage. A force that protects our heritage is the intellectual property system of Sri Lanka. Realising this, our intellectual property system is being expanded to meet modern needs as well. The long awaited amendments to Intellectual Property Act on Geographic Indicators (GI) and copyright for artists have also been finalized by my Ministry and ready for approval.

Minister Bathiudeen also said that, “We are expanding our intellectual property system to protect our traditional medicine system as well. For example our historic local medicine system which is part of our Ayurveda can be placed under global traditional knowledge support. Therefore I am pleased to say that we are working with Geneva’s World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in the last five years to introduce intellectual property support to our traditional, folk medicine system. In that we started working to introduce global traditional knowledge protection support for local medicine system, other than Ayurveda and western medicine practiced here”.

The Minister also noted that, “This effort will protect the valuable indigenous medicine practiced in Sri Lanka across many other countries and competitors. It also ensures the Unity government’s continued efforts to develop wellness tourism goals of Sri Lanka”.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is a supporter of this Ayurveda exhibition series from very early on-helping the expo series since 2007.

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