Monday, June 24, 2024
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‘Traditional healers should learn how to preserve herbs’

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SHILLONG: Traditional medical practitioners (healers) of Meghalaya on Saturday got together to learn basic ideas on how to preserve, document and manage traditional medicinal knowledge in a more scientific way which would help prevent many varieties of indigenous medicinal herbs and practices from being extinct.

Drawn from all the four districts of Khasi and Jaintia Hills, more than 50 known traditional healers participated in the workshop – ‘Community participation in Bio-resource management with special reference to traditional medicines of the Khasis of Meghalaya’ – held at St Edmunds College here.

State Planning Board Co-chairman and chairman of the Society for Promotion of Indigenous Knowledge and Practices (SPIKAP) said, “Our traditional medicine practitioners (traditional healers) are facing shortages of medicinal herbs at an alarming rate as years go by.”

“It is imperative that traditional healers learn how to preserve, plant and manage important herbs still available in the state,” he said.

According to him, there are more than 8000 traditional healers in Meghalaya.

A recent study by the Martin Luther Christian University in one of the government development blocks in East Khasi Hills revealed that 71 per cent of traditional healers are dependant on medicinal herbs available in the wild.

“This is a worrying trend and there will be a time when many important undocumented medicinal herbs will be wiped out from the jungles of Khasi and Jaintia Hills,” Kharshiing said.The state government had, on November 7 last, okayed and notified the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council Protection and Promotion of Khasi Traditional Medicine Bill, 2011, which, among other things, provides for the setting up of a Khasi Traditional Medicine Institute.The Governor gave an assent to this Bill which also provides for the protection of Khasi traditional medicine and the areas where medicinal plants are grown, which could be declared sanctuaries.

St Edmund’s College principal, Sylvanus Lamare, in his opening remarks at the workshop said, “with rapid deforestation and climate change, it is feared that many plant species used for medicinal purposes will be extinct… the knowledge of traditional healers in protection of such species is of utmost importance.”

“Their knowledge is to be respected and at the same time, scientific methods should be imparted so that proper documentation is done,” he said.

The participants were introduced basic bio-resource management techniques using sustainable methods of plant specimen collection, artificial propagation of such plants and proper documentation of their different uses. (PTI)

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