University of Philippines Manila

4th PH Herbal Medicine Summit: Bridging Heritage and Progress in Healthcare

Symbolizing the dynamic intersection of medical expertise and innovative spirit, the 4th Philippine Herbal Medicine Summit, themed “Securing the Health of the Filipino Family Through Philippine Herbal Medicines,” was held on the 18th and 19th of January, 2024 at the Sheraton Manila Bay.

The Summit was also held in celebration of the illustrious 50-year legacy of the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP), which featured the showcasing of eight (8) invention patents and four (4) utility models, with the lagundi and sambong tablets and syrup emerging as triumphant symbols of scientific and commercial success in Philippine herbal medicine.

Day One Highlights: Unveiling the Power of Tradition and Progress

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Institute of Herbal Medicine (IHM) Director Dr. Cecilia C. Maramba-Lazarte delivered the welcome remarks, underscoring the challenges in the Philippine healthcare system, wherein underprivileged communities face difficulties accessing medications. Recognizing the significance of traditional Filipino herbal medicine practiced for generations, Dr. Maramba-Lazarte advocated for expanding herbal medicine and the need for rigorous research to incorporate herbal medicines into
clinical practice.

“In this year’s summit, all stakeholders of herbal medicine, including those involved in research, funding, manufacturing, distribution, regulation, and consumption can discuss the current status of herbal medicine.”

NIH Executive Director Dr. Eva Maria Cutiongco-de la Paz

Delivering his inspirational speech, UP Manila (UPM) Chancellor Michael L. Tee emphasized that the collaboration between the University, NIRPROMP, and Pascual Laboratories, Inc. has “empowered communities and preserved our traditions, with the success of Lagundi showcasing how a traditional remedy can gain scientific validation, regulatory approval, and widespread acceptance in mainstream healthcare, highlighting the potential of traditional herbal medicine to bridge the gap between tradition and modern practices.”

Thereafter, the plenary sessions were held, spanning the spectrum of healthcare challenges, from universal healthcare to ASEAN harmonization, culminating in the unveiling of the 7th edition of the “Guide on the Proper Use of Medical Plants.” Success stories, such as the Lagundi journey, echoed the strides made in bridging tradition with modern healthcare practices.

Day Two Highlights: Revealing the Secrets of “Nature’s Pharmacy”

The second day of the Summit focused on the intricacies of medicinal plant taxonomy, ecology, and the groundbreaking introduction of the 1st Philippine Herbal Pharmacopoeia (PHP). A collaborative masterpiece, the PHP stands as a beacon in promoting the scientific use of Philippine medicinal plants, a significant milestone for the nation.

The day’s plenary sessions featured a narrative of drug discovery, sharing of best practices, and the presentation of new herbal medicines like Ulasimang Bato, Yerba Buena, and Akapulko, all offering a glimpse into the expanding horizon of herbal medicine.

On the two-day summit’s grand finale, UPM Community and Health Development Program (CHDP) Director Dr. Anthony H. Cordero presented the Philippine Herbal Medicine Development Plan, which aims to enhance personal well-being, self-reliance, and foster contribution to the national economy.

The Summit not only served as a nexus for collaboration and exchanges of knowledge, but also as a crucible for shaping the future of herbal medicine in the Philippines. With a vision of seamless integration of herbal medicines into the pursuit of universal healthcare, the Summit laid the foundation for a transformative journey toward holistic well-being.

Charmaine A. Lingdas

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