Local Health Traditions in Kerala and Local Intellectual Property Rights

By Rubeena Aliar.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Local Health Traditions are the health traditions passed on orally from one generation to the other. They form part of Traditional Medicine but are different from the codified classical medical systems like Ayurveda and Siddha, which are supported by a written text. Local Health Traditions (henceforth referred as LHT) is a cultural resource, which is declining at an alarming rate. In Kerala, a state in India, this is attributed to the decline of the associated natural resources (mainly herbs) and socio-cultural changes, which has led to an attitudinal change with regards to the use of LHT over the years.

The LHT are cultural resources of the community and their rights over the LHT are unquestionable. However it remains to be answered whether the community rights are protected. This research paper delves into the threats as perceived by the community members and the traditional medical practitioners with regards to protection of their legal rights over their knowledge systems. .

The objectives of the article are:
· To assess the present status of LHT with regards to its use and access;
· To examine the threats as perceived by the community and the local practitioners in regard to their rights over the knowledge systems; and
· To assess the possible sustainable strategies for the protection of the LHT.

The findings of the study are based on qualitative and quantitative information collected from two localities in Ernakulam district of Kerala supported by secondary information. The study affirms that LHT are in a state of constant decline from loss of the knowledge systems and herbal wealth supporting them. The rights of local practitioners and the community are not given due recognition. A sustainable strategy for the protection of LHT as a cultural resource is possible only through the effective participation of various stakeholders.

Keywords: Local Health Traditions, Health, Intellectual Property Rights, Environment, Culture, Sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.87-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 578.018KB).

Dr Rubeena Aliar

Project Felow, Kerala State Land Use Board, Kerala State Land Use Board, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

I am basically a researcher with research interests in fields of environment, culture, health, gender issues and sustainable development. I have a doctoral degree in Geography from the University of Madras. My doctoral thesis deals with Local Health Traditions and Complementary Medicine in Kerala, India. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Applied Geography from the University of Madras, during which I did a project on site selection for aquaculture farms. I have worked in a few projects relating to environment and health issues. Currently I am working with the Kerala State Land Use Board on a project dealing with the degradation of wetlands in Kerala. I had the opportunity of participating and presenting research papers at various conferences in India and abroad.


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