Despite the multiplicity of policies, goals and targets with regard to health, environment and development, we are still far from achieving their objectives, chiefly because health development focuses more on biomedicine than on broader determinants and inter-sectoral linkages to health. The mainstream system therefore, inadequately recognizes pluralistic approaches.

However, with diversity of choice becoming more important, and with academics and the public increasingly concurring that any single system of knowledge cannot solve the mounting problems of humanity, broad goals and indicators for development are often criticized for their “universal” approach. Experts argue that a primary health care (PHC) approach and the goal of universal health access are essential to achieve MDGs and this should be through appropriate, acceptable and affordable health care.

In line with the key tenets of a primary health care (PHC) approach, this also calls for promoting community and individual self-reliance through a participatory approach and making appropriate use of local resources.

The following three of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) focus on health and others:

mdg 4 MDG 4 – Reduce child mortality by two-thirds by 2015
mdg5 MDG 5 – Reduce maternal mortality by 75 per cent
mdg6 MDG 6 – Tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

In the table below, we highlight the specific goals and targets that pertain to health related MDGs with remarks on their relevance to community-based approaches using traditional medicine and biological resources to achieve health security and development aims.

Here, we outline potential areas of engagement of traditional medicine or community resource governance mechanisms with relevant targets of each of the goals, and relate the same to the Aichi targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

We believe that such areas of engagement based on sustainable use of natural resources, improving health, nutrition and livelihoods will have a positive effect on the welfare of local communities.

MDGs and Aichi Targets – Linkages and Potential Areas of Engagement with Traditional Medicine, Nutrition and Governance*

Goal Relevant Targets Potential Areas of
Aichi Targets of the CBD and
Community Health1
Goal 1:
poverty and
Target 1.C
(Reduce hunger)
    • Improving access to nutrition through promotion of traditional foods and products, creating awareness and use of seasonal foods, preservation and processing methods
    • Preservation of diversity of knowledge and conservation of resources that could lead to development of traditional food based dietary guidelines
    • Promotion of knowledge, resources and activities relevant to adaptation and enhanced resilience to environmental changes
T1, 2, 4, 13, 18,19 (Awareness of values of biodiversity, poverty reduction strategies, sustainable production and consumption, genetic diversity, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T) T4, 6, 7, 8, 13,18 (Sustainable production and consumption, sustainable harvesting, sustainable management, pollution reduction, genetic diversity, local traditional knowledge) T1, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 18, 19 (Awareness of values of biodiversity, sustainable management, reduce pollution, invasive alien species, vulnerable ecosystems, prevention of extinctions, genetic diversity, ecosystem resilience, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T)
Goal 4: Reduce
child mortality
Target 4.A
(Reduce under-five mortality rate)
    • Promotion of antenatal, postnatal and maternal care related cultural practices of positive value
    • Capacity building for better birth-related practices2
T1, 14, 18, 19 (Awareness of values of biodiversity, ecosystem services, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T)
Goal 5: Improve
maternal health
Target 5.A
(Reduce maternal mortality ratio)
Target 5.B
(Universal access to reproductive health)
    • Assessment of local knowledge related to contraception, maternal health care and improvement of reproductive health practices and promotion of positive practices
    • Improvement of professional skills of traditional birth attendants
    • Integration of trained and skilled professionals in traditional medicine for obstetric care for antenatal care coverage
T12, 14, 18, 19 (Prevention in extinctions, ecosystem services, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T)
Goal 6: Combat
malaria and
other diseases
Target 6.A
(Halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS)
Target 6.B
(Universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS)
Target 6.C
(Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases by 2015)
    • Examination and promotion of the role of traditional knowledge and practices in malaria prophylaxis
    • Exploration of traditional medicine-based drug development
    • Integration of traditional health professionals in HIV care
    • Exploration of development of traditional medicine-based comprehensive programmes on other infectious diseases
T5, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20 (Reduction in habitat loss, sustainable management, pollution reduction, genetic diversity, ecosystem services, ecosystem resilience, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T, increase in financial resources)
Goal 7: Ensure
Target 7.A
(Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of loss)
Target 7.C
(Reduce proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation)
    • Encouragement of community level good practices on sustainable use and management of medicinal, nutritional and cultural resources
    • Identification and strengthening of traditional knowledge-based practices for safe drinking water
T3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 18, 19 (Reduction in negative subsidies, sustainable production and consumption, reduction in habitat loss, sustainable harvesting, sustainable management, pollution reduction, invasive alien species, ecosystem services, ecosystem resilience, local traditional knowledge, increase knowledge, S&T)
Goal 8: Develop
a global
partnership for
Target 8.A
(Develop trading and financial system) Target 8.E
(Enhance co–operation for access to essential drugs)
    • Improvement in access to safe and effective traditional medicines
    • Encouragement of fair and equitable standards for commercial presence in global markets
T19, 20 (Increase knowledge, S&T,
increase in financial resources)
1 Aichi biodiversity targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity: T1 (awareness of values of biodiversity), T2 (poverty reduction strategies), T3 (reduction of negative subsidies), T4 (sustainable production and consumption), T5 (reduction in habitat loss), T6 (sustainable harvesting), T7 (sustainable management), T8 (reduction in pollution), T9 (invasive alien species), T10 (vulnerable ecosystems), T11 (protected areas), T12 (prevention of extinctions), T13 (genetic diversity), T14 (ecosystem services), T15 (ecosystem resilience), T16 (Nagoya Protocol), T17 (Adoption and implementation of NBSAPs), T18 (local/ traditional knowledge), T19 (increase knowledge, S&T), T20 (increase financial resources). For more information, please see .
2 Studies indicate that around 60 per cent of deliveries are carried out solely by traditional birth attendants in the developing world.

*Source: Here