|10 | "3 questions to" Vitalija Povilaityte-Petri,
scientific cooperator at
University of Mons, Department of Therapeutic Chemistry and Pharmacognosy
1. How is the relation between nature & human health part of your work/activities?
I have a scientific background in pharmaceutical, food and chemical sciences. My main research for almost 20 years focuses on safe, efficient, sustainable and responsible use of medicinal and edible plants, herbal medicinal products and botanical food supplements. Medicinal plants is an important source for medicines, cosmetics, food supplements or food. They also play a significant role in cultural rituals and the daily use of plants. The use of medicinal plants and their products is directly dependant on the available natural resources and biodiversity.
During the last decade we see developing a more holistic approach to research and use of medicinal plants. Scientists are analysing how traditional knowledge of medicinal plants evolves, how those plants contribute to ecosystem services, which role medicinal plants play in urban greening projects, local biocultural knowledge and therapeutic landscapes.2. How important is collaboration between different groups in the work on nature - health linkages?
We are most happy about developing cooperation and dialogue between scientists and practitioners of different fields. For many years pharmaceutical and food industries worked in isolation. Now we see many examples of interdisciplinary projects when pharmacists and food chemists work together with ethnologists, anthropologists, ecologists, historians, nutritionists, agriculture scientists, public health specialists, social scientists, psychologists and others to contribute to sustainable development goals, to take active part in green and circular economy. We see lots of dynamics in the field of complementary and alternative medicine where nature therapy has its important place too.
The collaboration between different groups in the work on nature - health linkages is essential if we want to develop further this field and to make it visible to the society as a real and solid option in disease prevention and control. We have many dispersed groups that do excellent work, but we have to come together, to connect our findings and to present them in a visible, confident and comprehensive way to politicians and all society.3. Where would you like the work on nature - health linkages to be in a few years?
In few years I would like to see the Belgian Community of Practice on Biodiversity and Health
to be developed into a Centre for Health and Biodiversity. Into a place which would serve as visitors centre and place of education where people could meet, carry out research and share knowledge. If my dream would materialise I would love to be part of such a Centre.