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Connecting global priorities : biodiversity and human health : a state of knowledge review
World Health Organization and Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
The contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to our health care needs is significant, both for the development of modern pharmaceuticals (Chivian and Bernstein 2008; Newmann and Cragg 2007; see also chapter on contribution of biodiversity to pharmaceuticals in this volume) and for their uses in traditional medicine (WHO 2013). Long before the rise of pharmaceutical development, societies have been drawing on their traditional knowledge, skills and customary practices, using various resources provided to them by nature to prevent, diagnose and treat health problems. Today, these practices continue to inform health-care delivery at the level of local communities in many places around the world (WHO 2013). In socioecological contexts such as these, several resources used for food, cultural and spiritual purposes are also used as medicines (Unnikrishnan and Suneetha 2012). Traditional medicine practices provide more than health care to these communities; they are considered a way of life and are founded on endogenous strengths, including knowledge, skills and capabilities.
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