THE country’s diverse yet rich culture and heritage gave birth to many of the current traditional and alternative health care practices. At the time when western medicine had not reached the country yet, the answer to many of the diseases and health problems were the herbs and plants in their surroundings.

The Philippines being a tropical country is blessed with more a thousand plants that have medicinal use, more so, the cultural diversity also produced numerous alternative healthcare modalities that have been  proven to be effective in addressing several health problems.

Through the years, traditional and contemporary health care has gained a stronger and better support and followers since its efficacy and effectiveness have been established by the many testimonials of those who have used and tried them.

With these facts, the Philippine government enacted a law, which incorporates traditional and alternative medicine in the national health care system, thus the establishment of the Philippine Institute for Alternative Health Care (PHITAC).

The PHITAC is mandated to encourage scientific research on and develop traditional and alternative health-care systems, develop and coordinate skills-training courses for various forms of traditional and alternative health-care modalities, formulate standards, guidelines and codes of ethical practice appropriate for the practice of traditional and alternative health care, as well as in the manufacture, quality control and marketing of different traditional and alternative health-care materials, natural and organic products, for approval and adoption by the appropriate government agencies; formulate policies for the protection of indigenous and natural health resources and technology from unwarranted exploitation, for approval and adoption by the appropriate government agencies; formulate policies to strengthen the role of traditional and alternative health-care delivery system; and promote traditional and alternative health care in international and national conventions.

Since PITAHC’s formation, it has been working on setting the bar high for this industry as the Philippines is home to many medicinal plants. In attaining its goals PITAHC is using and applying its strategy, which spells as ACHIEVE — Advance quality, health promotion and primary care, Cover all Filipinos against health-related financial risk, Harness the power of strategic HRH development, Invest in E Health and data for decision-making, Enforce standards, accountability and transparency, Value clients and patients, especially the poor and vulnerable, and Elicit multi-stakeholder support for health.

For 15 years, the PITAHC was able to deliver remarkable research works that have been very useful not only for the agency but also for manufacturers of herbal supplements. Its research findings serve as guidelines for developing health and wellness products.

Just last year, the agency has completed 15 research projects, and some of these were about the safety and efficacy of some natural products made from siling labuyo, Acapulco, virgin coconut oil, and tsaang gubat, among others.

Aside from these, the agency has been encouraging traditional healers to upgrade their know-how and skills by providing them training and seminars, which helped them honed their practices.

The PITAHC is also successful in inviting the traditional and alternative healers to accredit with PITAHC so they can also enjoy the benefits of being recognized by the agency. Through this effort, Filipinos who are not used to traditional medicine are beginning to trust the industry and they are well adjusting to it.

The PITAHC has also been reaching out to different barangays even in the far-flung communities nationwide. These community-based talks and trainings have very valuable in re-educating the people about the use of herbal medicines and traditional modalities.

For the past years, the agency has also produced a good number of traditional and alternative healers who trained under PITAHC and under its accredit training centers.

Another noteworthy achievement of the agency is the National Encyclopedia on Medicinal Plants. This book was recently awarded by the National Association of Science and Technology as the Book of the Year.

The PHITAC since its inception has also been acquiring technologies that helped them in improving the research works that it has been carrying out for the past 15 years.

The remarkable accomplishments of the PITAHC has redefined and reshaped the traditional and alternative industry of the Philippines, which gave the country’s national healthcare system a better option — effective and affordable.

 

Business Mirror

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