1. of medicines only. Alternatives medicines are ancient traditional



Herbal, Unani,
Ayurvedic, Homeopathic medicines and others spiritual activities used in our
country for the purposes of treatment diseases and fit their body, all of these
are known as alternative medicine. On the other hand it may say that except
allopathic medicine (i.e. mainstream medicine) all others medicines are
alternative medicine. In this text discussion confined on alternative
i.e.Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of 
medicines only. Alternatives medicines are ancient traditional systems
of medicines.  Out of alternative
medicine Herbal is relatively modern system of medicine and Unani and Ayurvedic
medicines have had long historical background in Bangladesh as well as rest of  the world. Unani and Ayurvedic medicines are
also a form of traditional medicines practiced all over the world including our

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Unani systems of
medicines are widely used in the countries of the Middle East, South Asia. It
is based on the teachings of Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen, and
developed and had puts very significant contribution  by the Muslim Arabian and Persian physicians
such as Al-Razi, Ibn Sena, AL-Zahrawi, and Ibn Nafis. Unani medicine first
arrived in India around 12th or 13th century with establishment and patronized
by Delhi Sultanate (1206–1527) and Islamic rule over North India and
subsequently flourished under Mughal Empire Alauddin Khilji had several eminent
Unani physicians (Hakims) in his royal courts. Muslim scholars had contributed
much more in the fields of Unani medicines.  

1Mr. Yousuf Ali Mozumder, Assistant Chief of
Bangladesh Tariff Commission. He completed his Bachelor of Commerce with
(Hons.) and Master of Commerce from Department of Commerce under University
of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Later on he did MBA (International Business)
from University of Western Sydney (NSW), Australia. He took part various
training on different issues of trade commerce, World Trade Organization
(WTO) and others business related issues home and abroad.  



Ayurvedic systems of medicine are
also a system of traditional Hindu medicine native to the Indian
subcontinent. It is also known as Ayurveda means ‘life knowledge’. According to
the history of alternative medicine it is an older system of medicine. The
origin of Ayurveda has been traced back to around 3,000 BC, it was originated
that time as an oral tradition. Ayurvedic practices included the use of herbal
medicines, mineral or metal supplementation, surgical techniques, opium, and
application of oil based massages.


Herbal, Unani and
Ayurvedic systems of medicine products have two branches one is known as
medicine and other is herbal food supplements. Food supplements products are
not treated as medicine.




Ayurvedic, Unani and Herbal systems of alternative medicines are widely
used and practices in Bangladesh. The major raw materials of these medicines
are herbs and herbs come from medicinal plants. Bangladesh medicinal plants
have had long historical background. Ancient to till date peoples of rural and
hilly areas of Bangladesh in some cases 
have directly use medicinal plants for the purposes of their treatment
i.e. they used it as an  alternative
medicine as raw form. Once in the rural areas there were medicinal plants
specialists. They used to made medicine in their home in very small scale and
homely environment. The manufacture of medicine used to visit patients home to
know their physical condition and therefore prescribed and supply medicine as
per their requirement. At the same way patients used to visit medicine
manufactures home for the purposes of their treatment.


In some areas of Bangladeshn medicinal plants specialist and makers of
medicine called ‘Kabaraj/Hakim’. At that time in the rural areas
‘Kabaraj/Hakim’ used to go hat (that sat one or twice a week) to communicate
peoples and sell their medicine.  Now a
day to making Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic medicines used modern technology,
involved large capital, huge labor and set up factory now it is became an
industry. The manufacturer of medicines now produces medicinal products as a
commercial basis and marketing their products home and abroad.




Meanwhile the world becomes as a global village, business become more
competitive and challenging nature. Now one country is not separated from other
county and products markets have spread over the world i.e. became a partner of
global markets. This global market trade and services now regulated by the
World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and regulations. Bangladesh is one of the
important members of WTO (World Trade Organization). It is playing role as
leader of LDC (Least Developed Countries). Globalization has put pressure to
comply international standard, technology, norms and regulations.


According to the report of World Health Organization (WHO), about 80% of
the world population used alternative medicine for their primary health
care.  The dependency of alternative
medicine has increasingly growing up day by day.

in the sub- sector

Presently, specialization is key factors of efficiency in the fields of
medicine.  People likes to choice
specialized person for the treatment of their diseases. Now competition has
increase many folds, the existence of the medicine manufacturing firms depends
on efficiency, goodwill, innovation and technological advancement.
Opportunities have created to diversify their products of Herbal, Unani and
Ayurvedic systems of medicines manufacturing firms. As a part of modernization
Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicines firms have changes older forms
of production systems and enter in to new convenient, cost efficiency forms of
production. Besides traditional forms of production they are now entered in to
modern forms of products say producing medicine as tablet, capsules, teas,
extracts and fresh or dried plants. Organizational competition has created
opportunity of worldwide market of their products.


Earlier it is mentioned that Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of
medicines products have treated as medicine. The producer of these medicines
products produces another products that called food supplements. Food
supplements products are not treated as medicine.  As per present drug policy (2005), for the
purpose of production and marketing of food supplements products there are no
requirement of any approval from Directorate General of Drug Administration
(DGDA) for the purposes of food supplements products. .

of manufacturing firms and their status.


The scenarios of the alternative medicines
manufacturing firms in Bangladesh and their status may be seen from the
following table:


Alternative medicines manufacturing firms and their
operational status


No. of firms


















Source: Directorate General of Drug Administration (2010)


From the above table it is seen that in Bangladesh total 437
manufacturing firms are engaging in production of Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic
systems of medicines. Out of 437 firms 17 numbers of firms are Herbal, 201
numbers of firms are Auurvedic and 219 numbers of firms are Unani medicine
firms. It is seen that entire 17 Herbal manufacturing firms are in production.
202 Unani medicine firms are in production and the rest 17 numbers firms are
not in production they are suspended. 168 Ayurvedic systems of medicine
manufacturing firms are in production and the rest 33 numbers of Ayurvedic
firms are suspended.

of the factories


The factories of manufacturing firms are scattered and located all over
Bangladesh. But most of the factories are located in Dhaka, Chittagong,
Gazipur, Comilla, Barisal, Bogra, Mymenshingh and Narayangonj. The total number
of factories in Dhaka is 136,  in
Chittagong 32, in Comilla 22, Barisal 19, and Bogra 19. A small numbers of
factories are located other districts of Bangladesh.




After independent the Government of Bangladesh has recognized Unani and
Ayurvedic systems of medicine. The Government has given priority to alternative
medicine and has created opportunities in the country for providing patients
care services through alternative medicine. 
In this regards total 198 posts of medical officers (from the Bachelor
of alternative medical college) have been created by the government. Out of 198
posts  66 posts of medical officers for
Unani systems of medicine, 66 medical officers for Ayurvedic systems of  medicine and the rest 66 medical officers for
Homoeopathic systems of  medicine. All of
the appointed medical officers are working in district hospitals along with
mainstream medical officers.


To grow medicinal plants and to create awareness to the local
beneficiaries about medicinal plants and Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic medicines
467 demonstration herbal gardens have been established in Bangladesh. Medicinal
plants gardens established one in each districts hospital and upazila health
complex premises. The post of one herbal gardener has been created and appointed
in each herbal garden to take care of the garden. There are 729 sanctioned
posts for alternative medicine care in government position including
homoeopathic medicines.


5. RAW


Raw materials of Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicines are
combination of herbs, chemical and parts of the animal or animal originated
products. In the production of Herbal, Unani and aAyurvedic systems of
medicines manufacturers of Bangladesh to produced their medicinal products they
used 70% of local raw materials and 30% of imported raw materials only. Out of
70% local raw materials only 10% raw materials are cultivated and the rest 90%
are wild harvested raw materials. It is a big opportunity to the alternative
medicines manufacturing industries of Bangladesh that most of the major raw
materials are available in the country. 
Due to deforestation wild raw material will be reduced day by day.


Keeping mind the reducing situation of wild harvesting raw materials   therefore immediate attempts need to be
taken for the production of cultivated raw materials for alternative medicines
industries in the country. To meet the challenge of sustainable development of
alternative medicines industries intensive care may need to take initiative for
cultivation of raw materials. It is hopeful that in the mean time cultivation
of medicinal plants has been increased in the country.


Peoples now becoming trustful and liking alternative medicine for their
treatment due to harmless characteristic of these medicines.  Awareness regarding medicinal herbs and
herbal medicine has been created towards alternative medicines home and aboard.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has been listed medicinal plants for
the purposes of manufacturing alternative medicines. Medicinal plants are the
major raw materials of Herbal, Unani and Ayurveduc systems of medicines. It is
good news for Bangladesh that some of these plants can be easily grow in
Bangladesh because of favorable environmental condition of its.  Some of these alternative medicines raw
materials are; garlic, turmeric, ginger, onion, aloe, Indian penny wort , marsh
mint, arjuna, emblic myrobalan, margosa, creat, chebulic myrobalan,  beleric myrobalan, black seed, vasaka,
devil’s cotton, winter cherry, snake root, black basil, folium sennae,
liqourice root, fenugreek, gum arabic tree, asparagus, plea seed etc.

It is mention earlier that many of alternative medicine plants grow in
Bangladesh.  Medicinal plants are mainly
wild harvested in our country. Wild harvested medicinal plants should not be
permanent sources of supply and it should be replaced by cultivation where
possible. Besides now in Bangladesh medicinal plants are growing and
cultivating scattered all over the country but some areas are famous for
medicinal plants cultivation.  


It was understood from previous study that 70% of the raw materials of
Harbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicines are producing in country; on
the other hand many of these raw materials have multipurpose uses in our
country and our everyday cooking.  As an
example it is mentioned here the names of spices that uses as a raw material of
medicines and on the other hand these spices are the one of the major ingredients
of cooking stuff besides these have many other alternative uses.




Most of the alternative medicine manufacture ring firms have used their
own raw materials and some of them have own plants garden.  Besides, NGO of the country and others communities
based organizations are engaged in helping farmers for productions,
distributions and marketing of medicinal plants. Community based organizations
are also involved in commercial cultivation. Major medicinal plants of the
country are produced in the districts of Natore, Bogra regions, Chittagong,
Mymensingh, Rangpure regions and some of them cultivated in Sylhet regions. It
is seen that normally hilly areas are suitable for the production and
cultivation of medicinal plants.




Future prospects of local raw material in Bangladesh  is very potential, it is  considered as a home of herbal plants where
over 550 species of herbal plants grow in the country and these are available
and suitable for producing herbal medicine in the country.  About 25 plants of Bangladesh considered high
priority herbs plants.  On the other hand
it was identified that due to various reasons for example numbers of rivers,
less uses of fertilizer, favorable climate condition etc encourage production
of medicinal plants . Moreover it is proved that the soil of Bangladesh may not
be as heavily contaminated with pesticides and herbicides in comparison of the
soil of China and India. This natural condition of Bangladesh will be  create a positive image and motivation toward
Bangladeshi medicinal plants by the foreign buyer/investors as well as personal
choice of individuals may create demand for Bangladeshi medicinal plants and
medicines manufactured in the country. The manufacturers of alternative
medicines are in adventurous position to explore their products in the obverses
market and export them by adding more value and can create more job opportunity
in the country.


The manufacturers of alternative medicine of Bangladesh have export
potentiality. For the purpose of export of alternative medicines pre condition
laid down in the Drug Policy of Bangladesh (2005) that any drugs are allowed to
produce in Bangladesh in accordance with the specific requirements of the
importing country.  Medicines may be
exported in their genetic name or in their company brand name. According to the
WHO (World Health Organization)  the
world market of the Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic medicines and medicinal plants
more than US$ 60 billion but in 2010, the world market focused US$ 150 billion
(Estimated) in near future. WHO has farther forecasted that the global market
for herbal products would be US$ 3 trillion by the year 2020 and US$ 5 trillion
by the year 2050.




National Drug Policy of Bangladesh regulates drug production,
distribution, marketing and pricing etc. It was published in 18th
April 2005. In the published Drug Policy along with mainstream medicine,
alternative systems of medicines have been included in the National Drug Policy.
The Director General of Drug Administration (DGDA) is the administering
authority of all kinds of drug. It is quite impossible to the authority to
monitor and control, laboratory testing and other related activities of
medicine industry. Presently pharmaceuticals industry is a very large and
promising sector in Bangladesh. It is exporting medicine i.e. pharmaceuticals
products over 150 countries of the world. To manage the drug sector it is
require separate monitoring authority for alternative medicines of Bangladesh.
At the same way for the monitoring of Harbal, Unani and   Ayurvedic medicines need separate authority
and another alternative medicine is homeopathic medicines that needs also
separate controlling and monitoring authority.




In the export policy 2009-2012, alternative
medicines sub-sector producing medicinal plants and medicine products have been
considered as a Special Priority Sectors. Alternative medicines are entitled to
have the benefits and facilities that are applicable to alternative medicine
subsector. The sub-sector considered as a Special Priority Sectors.

26. As a Special Priority Sectors benefits and
facilities are entitle   to have project
loans a normal interest rates  on
priority basis, export loans with soft terms and reduced interest rates,
shipment of products at reduced air fare, duty draw-back/bond facilities,
facilities for setting up of backward linkage industries including
infrastructural development  as to reduce
production cost, expansion of technical facilities to improve the quality of
products, assistance in marketing of products and in searching for foreign
markets,  possible financial benefits for
utility services such as electricity, water and gas and necessary initiatives
to attract foreign investments (FDI).




Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicines of Bangladesh are producing
under formula approved by theEexpert Formulary Committee. Therefore the
standard of the medicines should be equal to each and every firm. But in
practical situation the standard of medicine one firm to other firms are not
same.  It may say that some manufacturing
firms hoodwink to the interest of the common people by not for following
standard set for them. Some Herbal Unani and Ayurvedic medicine firms are doing
malpractices in the country, they are using advertising in a manner that common
people coming for treatment and spending much more money but they are not
getting proper benefits from its.

Food substitute


On the other hand in the name of food substitute many local and imported
products are available in the country using colorful advertizing, promising
treatments of many diseases and are misleading to the common peoples and making
fraud with the people. There is no one to protect them; it should not be
continue in the coming future. It may expect that the appropriate authority
come forward for prevention of the malpractice of medicine.




National Drug Policy 2005 formulated for pharmaceutical and for all other
alternative medicines. Pharmaceutical sub-sector industry is a vast sector in
the country and its needs separate to monitor and control its functions but
there is no separate body to oversee its activities.


Alternative medicines sub- sector is not a small one.  Separate policy and administering and
monitoring authority is  require for
alternative or traditional systems of medicines like Herbal, Unani and
Ayurvedic systems of medicines in Bangladesh.


Emphasis has given for manufacturing Quality and standard drug in the
country. There is a list of Essential Drugs in the country. In this regards
government has made List of Essential Drugs for pharmaceutical sector only. But
no list of Essential Drugs determined for Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems
of medicines.


Some of alternative medicine firms are producing food supplements
products but no provisions have been made in this regard in the Drug Policy
2005 for production and marketing of food supplements. No separate monitoring
authority, no price monitoring body of alternative medicines. In the drug
policy it is mentioned that price should be ‘affordable’ this word needs to be
clarification by the authority or it may necessary to establish a formula for




A central Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic system of medicine testing
laboratories are needed to be established. It will ensure the quality of the
products.  Research and Development
(R) is the key element of any innovation that lead the products as well
as  country forward, therefore a research
institute need to be established for the development of Ayurvedic, Unani and
herbal medicines.


Availability of data/information’s are the key elements of measuring  and making development policy intake, formulating
policy, taking future action plan and focus ting of an industry but no database
regarding production, sales, exports etc. are available. Necessary measures
should be adapted in these regards. Directorate General of Drug Administration
(DGDA) is the licensing authority, the manufacturing firms suppose to be
submitting productions and others related data/ information to the DGDA but no
productions and others related data/ information’s are available in the office
DGDA. Office of the DGDA should consider as depository of production, sales and
other related data/information’s.


Alternative medicine i.e. Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic medicines are
approved by the government but no medicines of this groups are not included as
‘Essential’ Drug list. There needs to be included some of them as ‘Essential’
Drug. The industry is a growing sector; cultivations of medicinal plants should
be encouraged, necessary steps needs to be taken for the improvements of
cultivation plants.  It is need strong
backwards linkages for the improvement of the alternative systems of medicines.


The domestic market of Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicine
are very large due to huge population in the country. Therefore most of the
firms are primarily focusing on catching domestic markets. Some large firms
have little intension for exports markets. Trade liberalization has also
created pressures on domestics firms to become export oriented to ensure their
growth and prosperity. The Herbal, Unani and Ayurvedic systems of medicine
identified as a priority sector and government made multi provisions in favor
of producers as well as exporters of the products of the sub sector but no
positive result reflected in the export scenario. 


Some of the firms engaged as manufactures of counterfeit, adulterated and
sub standard drugs and using enlighten packaging and writing attractive words
into levels and advertising products in a manner to mislead the common peoples
and there should be under system of  
exemplary punishment. 


The manufacturers of Herbal, Unani & Ayurvedic systems of medicine
should follow quality and international standard of products.  There needs to put positive efforts to
penetrate into the foreign markets.