The ASEAN – Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines, and Traditional Medicines Innovation (ASEAN-NDI) organized the first meeting of Traditional Medicine experts, the so-called Community of Practice (CoP) representatives, from ASEAN-member countries. It was held last 26-27 June 2014 at Dusit Thani Hotel, Makati City, Philippines. With nine out of the 10 countries present, CoP representatives were able to identify ASEAN-wide endeavors on traditional medicine.
CoPs will be the on-ground teams engaged in basic to applied research, clinical trials, translational exercises, commercialization activities, and other research related activities. Based on the Strategic Business Plan (SBP) of ASEAN-NDI, below are the duties and responsibilities of the CoP representatives:
a. develop an ASEAN-wide research and development (R & D) project proposal on Traditional Medicine;
b. collaborate with other researchers from ASEAN member states;
c. initiate funding request from other agencies; and
d. monitor and evaluate progress on research implementation and outcomes.
During the meeting, the CoP representatives, namely, Dr. Dato Hj Mohamed Majid (Brunei Darussalam), Dr. Kong Sokdina (Cambodia), Dr. Danang Ardiyanto (Indonesia), Dr. Khamphong Phommavong (Lao PDR), Dr. Habibah Wahab (Malaysia), Dr. Isidro Sia (Philippines), Dr. Joel Lee (Singapore), Dr. Anchalee Chuthaputti (Thailand), and Dr. Do Thi Ha (Vietnam), presented country status reports and identified possible areas of collaboration. They emphasize the importance of traditional medicine in lessening the hospitalization costs, and synthetic medicine expenses, as well as lowering the burden of diseases. They recognized the need to standardize the rules and regulations on the use of traditional medicine and to encourage evidence based researches that will ensure and prove the safety and efficacy of the use of traditional medicine.
Common challenge among the ASEAN countries is the lack of available information on traditional medicine like herbal products. They planned to create a regional database of herbal products that will contain the list of all available herbal products in ASEAN countries, and also important information about these products such as chemical constituents, indications, safety, availability, and researches done. This project will be spearheaded by Dr. Habibah Wahab of Malaysia.
The meeting was made possible through the support of the International Commitments Fund (ICF) of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the ASEAN Science Fund (ASF), and the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD).
About the Author: Dr. Maria Ruth Pineda-Cortel is an ASEAN-US Fellow from the Philippines. Her priority area is health. She is currently assigned to work with the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST – PCHRD). As a fellow, she is tasked to incorporate the use of science in policy-making and to emphasize the importance of collaborations towards achieving ASEAN integration. She is also a faculty/researcher at the University of Santo Tomas Department of Medical Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy.