Davao City Council urges residents to grow medicinal plants

The resolution, approved on second reading, adopted Project TAMBAL or “Tanom    nga Medisina Bahandi sa Lawas,” (Medicinal Plants Precious to the Body) a community-based herbal medicine project aimed to address the “persistent social and health concern on the availability, or the lack of medicines in the health centers”.

The legislation would “encourage Davaoeños to seek traditional and alternative ways of health care through the use of herbal medicines, which are proven to be effective, safe, cost-efficient, and consistent with government standards of medical practice” according to the report of the council’s committee on health read in the session.

The plants that would be promoted for backyard gardening are Lagundi, Olasimang Bato, Bayabas, Bawang, Herba buena , Sambong, Ampalaya , Niyog-niyogan, Tsa-ang  gubat, and Akapulko.                                                      

The committee report cited the 10 plants as “well-researched” and scientifically documented by scientists including those from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine.                                           

The Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITACH), an agency under the Department of Health, already created three medicines from the 10 plants, namely Lagundi for asthma, Tsa-ang gubat for abdominal pains, and Sambong for urinary kidney stones.

PITACH produces the herbal medicines from a plant in Davao City and sells them at P2 per tablet using raw materials from a plantation in Tacloban City.                                 

The promotion of the growing of herbal plants in backyards could provide a “buffer” of supply, Anette Atanacio, a pharmacist at PITACH Davao told MindaNews. 

Atanacio said there are already groups who are selling them raw materials. She said they have criteria for suppliers of herbal plants like handling and growing.

She said they would likely exchange raw materials from the community with supplies of herbal medicine tablets.

There is a growing demand for the use of herbal medicines in the local market, Atanacio said, citing a 100-percent increase in sales from 2004 to 2005.

But she said the move by the city government would really encourage people to use traditional and alternative ways of health care, and not just provide PITACH buffer supply of medicines.

“With herbal medicines in their backyards, the campaign by the city government would encourage people to learn and patronize indigenous medicines,” she said.                      

According to the resolution, Project TAMBAL “endeavors to make the different barangays in the City to be self-sustaining, self-reliant, and self-sufficient in their needs for herbal medicines.”                 

The resolution noted the role of herbal medicine not only in traditional health care but also in the culture, history, heritage, and consciousness of the Davaoeños.

The resolution was based on Republic Act 8423 or the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 1997, which provides for the promotion and advocacy for the use of traditional, alternative, preventive and curative health care modalities.

The law provides for the formulation of policies for the protection of indigenous and natural health resources and technology from unwanted exploitation, for approval and adoption by the appropriate government agencies. It also provides for the formulation of policies to strengthen the role of traditional and alternative health care delivery system.   

No implementing guidelines have been released yet but Councilor Gerald Bangoy told the city council on July 11 that the project has been going on in the 3rd district where Councilor Rene Elias Lopez comes from.

Bangoy and Lopez, both physicians, are proponents of the resolution. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)