1. Publications of Evidence-based Information
1.1 Rapid response
- The Unit consistently receives numerous queries from higher management levels, the public, and industry on the potential use and research of various herbs, traditional remedies, finished herbal products, supplements, complementary therapies, and medical devices for different diseases. Due to the urgency of response needed, systematic rapid literature reviews are required to be conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the interventions in inquiry. The outputs including full reviews, rapid reviews, technical reports, infographics, or publications are used to support decision making, press release statements, and policy changes at higher management levels. The Unit is also involved in follow-up discussions pertaining to the topic of interest with various stakeholders.
- Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia: This book contains information on 2,002 medicinal plants that are used in Malaysia with 500 coloured photographs.
- Malaysian Herbal Monograph 2015: This book combined monographs from Volumes 1, 2, 3 and herbal monographs developed under the Entry Point Project (EPP1): High-value herbal products in the economic development agenda.
- Peralatan Perubatan Tradisional Melayu coffee table book: This coffee table book was published in 2016. It contains images and illustrations of equipment and apparatus used in traditional Malay medicine practice in the preparation of ointments and traditional medicines such as ubat periuk and herbal concoctions. The apparatus are also used in the application, administration, and storage of the preparations and products. All information in this book was recorded during interview sessions with traditional Malay medicine practitioners chosen from the participants of the Comprehensive Documentation of Malay Traditional Knowledge on Medicinal Plants in Peninsular Malaysia. The project was headed by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), in collaboration with Herbwalk Consultancy, Institute for Medical Research (IMR), and Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division (T&CMD) of the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO), Malaysian National Library (PNM), and philologist, the late Dr. Harun Mat Piah. The book contains photographs, graphic depictions and simple descriptions of the practices and related apparatus used in their practice.
2. Global Information Hub on Integrated Medicine (GlobinMed)
GlobinMed is a web-portal project set up after a decision made during the 12th Meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers which suggested that scattered information on traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) from Commonwealth countries should be gathered, evaluated and centralized for easy access. Since its launch in the year 2007, the website has upgraded its interface three times with the most current interface launched in the year 2021.
From the very beginning, the Integrative Health Information Unit has been involved with GlobinMed which envisioned being the most credible provider of updated evidence-based information on T&CM towards the establishment of Integrated Medicine. This database aims to collate, evaluate, and centralise the scattered information on T&CM through smart partnership, technology advancement, and competent individuals.
Initially, the GlobinMed team continued to work closely with content writers, providers, partners and collaborators, to develop a total of twelve scopes related to T&CM, which catered to different target groups such as cultivators, business owners, researchers, students and public. The subject areas covered are botanical (Conservation, Medicinal Herbs & Plants Database), research and publication (IMEvidence, Research & publication), health (health conditions, safety), business (trade & business; policy, law and IPR), traditional knowledge, training and education, T&CM and ASEAN Traditional Medicine.
GlobinMed has always put evidence-based information as priority and the Intellectual Property of the website contents is strictly safeguarded. New and updated articles are currently being produced in-house by the Unit since year 2011 as the staffs has developed the literature research expertise.
3. Malaysian Herbal Monograph (MHM)
The other core activity of this unit is its role as Secretariat, with some officers as members of the Technical and Main committee in developing herbal monographs of selected medicinal plant species for the Malaysian Herbal Monograph (MHM), which is in compliance with the general international requirements to support industrial needs for raw material authentication in product preparation for high-value herbal products.
The Malaysian Herbal Monograph Committee consists of seven agencies namely the IMR, National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
4. Voucher Specimen Collection
A voucher specimen is a pressed plant sample with collection data deposited for future reference to support its research work and may be examined to verify the identity of the specific plant used in a study. This involves documentation of medicinal plant information which is an ongoing activity that involves every officer in HMRC. Voucher specimen supplies, equipment and assistance are available for researchers to prepare voucher specimens for the IMR collection.
5. Traditional Knowledge
This unit has also put its focus on the documentation and compilation of traditional medicine practices in Malaysia. The key purpose of this activity is to preserve and conserve traditional knowledge practices in proper and accessible forms. The main activities in this role are to identify, document, and (whenever possible) establish a collection of related artifacts. The Unit was a collaborating agency in the ‘Comprehensive Documentation of Malay Traditional Knowledge on Medicinal Plants in Peninsular Malaysia’ 2013 - 2015 project led by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM), which was funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. The Unit has established an exhibition of collected apparatus in IMR Biomedical Museum at IMR Jalan Pahang as one of the outcomes of this project. More areas of locally-practiced traditional medicine are to be pursued to enrich the documentation of knowledge and enhance the collection of apparatus. Exhibiting the collection and publications of information will benefit the research community in executing more studies to prove and validate the safety and efficacy of traditional medicine. To the public, this knowledge dissemination exercise aims to spread the knowledge and spark interest to preserve them.
6. Evidence-based Integrated Medicine (IMEvidence)
Since 2013, our Unit has been conducting Evidence-based Integrated Medicine (IMEvidence) workshops annually to provide exposure and guidance to staff of the MOH on preparing quality review papers (which focuses on herbal, and T&CM treatment) for the publication of journals or scope of IMEvidence on the GlobinMed website.
7. Future/ ongoing plans
7.1 Malaysian Herbal Pharmacopoeia
7.2 Bioinformatics studies on potential herbs via in silico methods, mathematical modeling, and other analytical methods.