The Unani and Ayurvedic medicines are likely to get a status of agro-based industry as Industries Minister Dilip Barua recently assured of extending further support to the sector from the government. He stressed the need for developing herbal and unani treatment methods to reach health care services to the door steps of the people. Addressing a workshop he made it known that “People of many developed countries have been preparing to take herbal and unani treatments instead of allopathic medicines, as it has no side effects. We can ensure health care service among the people at grassroots level in Bangladesh by modernizing treatment”. Bangladesh Ayurvedic Oushad Shilpa Samity (BAOSS) organized the workshop with support from Medicinal Plants and Herbal products Business Promotion Council (MPHPBPC) of the Ministry of Commerce. President of BAOSS Dr Selim Mohammad Shahjahan who chaired the function said more than 70 per cent of total population, especially the rural people, mostly depends on homeopathy, Ayurvedic and Unani herbal medicines because of their low cost and no side effects.
The workshop was told that the herbal medicine sector could earn a sizeable amount of foreign exchange provided the government extends necessary fiscal and cash incentives. Dr Selim urged the government to keep the import of raw materials for the sector completely free from VAT net for next five years. The demand of herbal products and cosmetics have gone up recently all over the world. The Industries Minister agreed with Dr Selim and said steps should be taken to ensure smooth supply of raw materials for the production of herbal items in Bangladesh.
It is learnt that more than 700 species of herbal plants are now on the verge of extinction. Hence the sector leaders should focus more on developing new gardens of medicine plants across the country. The Industries Minister in this connection rightly urged the big industry and corporate houses to invest in plantation programmes of medicinal and herbal plants as part of their social responsibility. Undoubtedly the plantation would not only help meet the existing demands but also open up further avenues to boost export earnings from herbs.
We should be grateful to the Industries Minister for reminding people not to be allured by lucrative advertisements from fake companies of herbal medicines in Bangladesh. In this context he urged the Unani and Ayurvedic medicine producers and doctors to remain cautious against a vested group who has been creating image crisis of the sector. Bangladesh is in a position to export herbal products by manufacturing quality herbal products and medicines. With this the country’s export basket and employment opportunities will be augmented which in turn will contribute towards becoming economically self-reliant. The species critically endangered in the country have to be conserved for sustaining traditional herbal treatment.
Now it is the foremost duty of herbal entrepreneurs and physicians to create mass awareness about the necessity of herbal plants. The premier and globally recognized Unani Medicine manufacturer- Hamdard (Waqf) Bangladesh and Ayurvedic Medicine producers Sadhana Aushadhalaya and Shakti Aushadhalaya must be consulted by government to rejuvenate the Unani and Ayurvedic systems of treatment. With more than 103 years of experience Hamdard (Waqf) Bangladesh can play a pivotal role along with Sadhana and Shakti in promoting, developing the recognized herbal methods of treatment in a well planned manner initiated on the basis of Public Private Partnership (PPP).