Appropriate Protection, Promotion and Access to Benefit-sharing of Traditional Herbal Medicinal Knowledge in Uganda

"Traditional Knowledge in Uganda as exemplified through traditional herbal medicine enjoys national patronage by individuals. It is acknowledged that this knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. The current and modern regimes on intellectual property rights are inadequate to sufficiently protect traditional knowledge and assure benefits sharing to the communities from which such knowledge comes. Culturally, this knowledge was protected through some form of “trade secrets”. This study sought to establish the extent of usage of traditional herbal medicine in Uganda and how traditional knowledge can be protected to assure benefits sharing. The study came up with various findings; for example, there are more herbalists available to the population than doctors trained in Western Medicine; that the practitioners of traditional knowledge look at it as a source of income or employment. Most herbalists are not aware of existing laws to protect use of herbal medicine. An analysis of existing laws in Uganda reveals a scattered approach in the sense that various legislations mention something on traditional knowledge. It is generally accepted that traditional knowledge can best be protected through a sui generis approach. To this end, it is concluded that the proposed bills and policies on traditional medicine can be modeled along the lines of the Swakopmund Protocol to produce an appropriate legal and institutional framework for the protection of indigenous knowledge for the benefit of the communities."