Rejoinder: Herbal medicines pose no danger to public health

In recent times there has been a worrying trend of top or senior allopathic medicines managers who gets the least opportunity in the public space to run down herbal medicine. The question is who are they in competition with? Is it the multi nationals whom they are marketing or selling their products/drugs? These multinationals sell their drugs and proceeds are repatriated to foreign countries against our indigenous God-given medicines found on our land, that when developed, and marketed internationally will impact our nation Ghana not to talk about the honour and its monetary value. Will be tremendous. It is for this reason that the Director of Medical Services must educate Regional Directors working under the Ministry of Health.

A man displaying some herbal extracts

We have come a long way in traditional and alternative medicines in Ghana with a directorate called Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate (TAMD) with an able and qualified director, Dr Anastasia Yirenkye and the immediate past Registrar, Torgbui Yaka, being a Pharmacist and a Lawyer at the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC) of the Ministry of Health.

In recent past, there was a publication that herbal medicines are the causes of kidney disorders in the country which I found disturbing and worrying. Statements of this nature must be researched and scientifically proven with clearly defined methodology from the labs to its clinical trials, to ascertain acceptable facts, and not sweeping statement in the public space.

In any case in developed countries, kidney cases are rampant where households are buying and using dialysis machines in their homes,

Dr Adam Atiku who is the Regional Medical Director in Tamale, expressed worry that, despite the availability of specialists, some people first visited herbal doctors for treatment and went to the hospital with deteriorated conditions. It is important that Dr Atiku who is a Regional Medical Director in Tamale should be able to ascertain why patients decide to go to herbal doctors as the first point of call than the hospitals. This has been on the TAMD/TMPC’s radar over the years. The reasons may be many but perhaps it might be accessibility or financial constraints or they have believe in the herbal medicines.

To the allopathic hospitals, what do they do with deteriorated cancer conditions/auto-immune conditions? They normally send them home then to the same herbal/traditional doctors.

On Saturday, May, 21, 2022 the Ghanaian Times, attributed a statement to Dr Adam Atiku, that Herbal Medicine possess danger to public health. Our research, shows that herbal medicines possess no danger to public health rather, it had contributed immensely since time immemorial.

 Our reference to Dr Oku Ampofo, Mampong Research Institute. It must be pointed out that it has been estimated that there are over 40,000 traditional medicine practitioner in the country. The TMPC and GHAFRAM has been able to track and register over 20,000 and they are being trained, taken through CPD’s three or four times in the year region by region. Part of their training is about the type of cases that need to be refer to the hospitals.

The relationship between the Herbal/Traditional Medicine Practitioners and the media, has been cordial and together with the Media Commission, a code of ethics is being developed for use by the media. Another point to be made is that most of the herbal medicines in the market have been verified and approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and some are being marketed by the pharmaceutical shops. Since 2005, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has been producing medical herbalist graduates through the Mampong Research Institute where the Ministry of Health has posted 86 medical herbalists to 55 government hospitals across the country.  These practitioners prescribe herbal medicines certified and approved by the FDA/the TAMD of the Ministry of Health.

The Alternative Medicine practitioners see their counterparts in allopathic Medicine practitioners as partners and not as competitors. In the developed countries today, USA and Europe are being introduced to Integrative medicine were allopathic medicine practitioners are studying Alternative Medicine in addition to their practice and vice versa. Way to go and not to run down herbal medicine.

The writer is a chiropractor, Dr. A.N. Arthur


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