At Kanna Health, we have made it part of our mission to contribute to the preservation of the traditional knowledge that is the basis for our drug development. The kanna plant has been used for centuries by the San and Khoikhoi communities of South Africa. Historically, indigenous tribes have often been overlooked and underrepresented, leading to the erosion of a wealth of traditional knowledge. Conserving these resources has become vital. Therefore, we strive to acknowledge and collaborate with the traditional knowledge holders and we aim to make our impact initiatives central to the company, right from the beginning.
We inaugurate our impact work with the signature of a discovery phase benefit-sharing agreement with the South African San Council (SASC) in accordance with the Nagoya Protocol*. We have voluntarily entered into this agreement to ensure that a fair and equitable benefit is shared from utilization of indigenous knowledge and the plant resource, and to ensure that the beneficiaries and South African authorities are informed of our activities from the outset. The benefit-sharing agreement recognises the San hunter-gatherers as the primary traditional knowledge holders in relation to the medicinal use of kanna. It also recognises the Paulshoek/Nourivier communities and includes regular payments to both communities.
The signing ceremony was held at the !Khwattu San Culture & Education Centre, which our CSO Dr Nigel Gericke was present for.
Following his visit with the SASC, Nigel reported:
“This best-practice agreement stands as an example of how a benefit-sharing agreement can be concluded with local communities by the biotech industry that utilises indigenous plant use knowledge as a departure point for pharmaceutical drug discovery and development. Transferable key elements of the negotiations leading to this benefit-sharing agreement include the existence of historical records of plant use, a recognised body representing the beneficiary community, mutual good faith, transparency and trust, frank and open dialogue, and experienced independent legal counsel engaged by the beneficiaries.”
The Secretary General to the SASC, Collin Louw, also said:
“The San Council of South Africa believes in long-term partnerships and collaborations, and our continued friendship with Dr Nigel Gericke is testimony to that. Ethical and transparent benefit-sharing negotiation based on our principles of respect, honesty, fairness, and care is paramount to any benefit-sharing agreement. The partnership with Kanna Health is a benchmark for benefit-sharing agreements with international companies. They have been transparent with the project and company information, updating us on the project development, sharing research data and remaining frank about potential project developments.”
We are truly grateful for the San Council’s support, and we hope to maintain and strengthen this close relationship even further with time.
* International agreement that aims to share the benefits from using genetic resources, traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources, and the benefits from using these resources.