THE Uganda Registration Service Bureau(URSB) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with THETA Uganda to protect traditional health knowledge, skills and products.
The partnership will involve URSB providing knowledge and information on intellectual property rights to traditional medicine practitioners especially the process of obtaining trademarks and patents for herbal products, formulations and branding.
THETA-Uganda is a not for profit Ugandan Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that works to promote research in traditional medicine
"Traditional medicine is currently being promoted at international level and it is important that we focus on this aspect of intellectual property. This is part of the on-going traditional knowledge negotiations for an international instrument for protection, preservation and utilisation of traditional Knowledge," said Bemanya Twebaze, the Registrar General at URSB.
Over the years, Uganda's herbal medicine business has been registering impressive growth. However, it has been bedeviled with quacks who have tarnished the image of the industry.
According to the 2010 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, at least 80 percent of Africans rely on herbal medicine as the main source of treatment.
Parliament is also currently considering the Indigenous and Complementary Medicine Bill,2015 that will regulate and streamline the management of traditional medicine in Uganda. The bill is expected to enhance the role of traditional herbalist and empower organisations that promote this sector.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Joseph Baguma, the THETA executive director said the MOU indicates commitment by two institutions to recognise, promote, preserve and protect the inherent values in traditional medicine which has been used widely to protect the lives of many Ugandans.
"Countries world over invest in research in traditional knowledge and medicine because of the medicinal value which ensures that the populace is protected. Traditional medicine is the first medical treatment for people especially in the rural areas when medical attention is required. We are going to sensitize our members and provide guidance on the relevance of protecting traditional knowledge and cultural expressions because of the immense benefits," noted Dr Baguma.
Siraje Byansi of Basajja Bazila herbal medicine welcomed the MOU saying for a long time people have been stealing their knowledge, now that there is a legal framework to guide them, they will be protected.