Dr Kofi Busia, the Immediate past Director of Healthcare Services at the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), has debunked notions that the use of herbal medicines caused kidney, liver or heart problems.
He said, like other orthodox medicines, there was scientific evidence to proof the efficacy and safety of most herbal medicines must only be prescribed and used ‘sensibly’ by the public.
“Traditional and herbal medicine is not quackery, they have outspoken therapeutic benefits and will not cause kidney or liver problems if prescribed and used sensibly.
“There are many credible scientific studies out there to attest to the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines and attempts to denigrate or ban them based on often uncorroborated myths is fatalistic to say the least,” he stated.
Dr Busia was delivering the keynote address at the 20th Commemoration of African Traditional Medicine Day and the 23rd Traditional Medicine (TM) Week Celebration, in Accra yesterday.
It was on the theme; “Two decades of African Traditional Medicine Day: Progress towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa.”
The Health expert observed the growth in Ghana’s traditional medicine landscape in the last 20 years, highlighting key milestones including meeting all World Health Organisation for good traditional medicine practice, establishment of the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC), a vibrant herbal practitioners association and running a degree programme in herbal medicine.
“The established research infrastructure and mechanisms must provide a platform for further development of efficacious and affordable herbal medicines based on sound ethnobotanical evidence,” he charged.
Dr Busia in emphasising the fact that traditional medicine remained a trusted and accessible source of healthcare for millions of people around the world, charged industry players to “do more to inspire confidence in our art for it to be fully accepted and integrated into the health system for the benefit of all citizens.”
The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a speech read on his behalf announced that over 100 medical herbalists have been attached to about 55 public health facilities across the country to complement healthcare delivery.
He said an estimated 70 per cent of the Ghanaian population used some form of traditional and alternative medicine for their primary healthcare needs with over 100,000 traditional medicine practitioners dotted across the nation, serving as backbone to the healthcare delivery system.
“The ratio of traditional healers in Ghana to the population is 1:400 while that for orthodox doctors to the population is 1:600 and indicative of the increasing demand for traditional medicine,” he said.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the Ministry was poised to carry through an integration policy that would see traditional and alternative medicine highly recognised as a viable option for the health and wellbeing of citizens.
Nonetheless, he urged industry players to apply quality and safety standards to ensure medicines were not only patronised locally but commercials and competed on the international health market.
The Registrar of the TMPC, Dr Mrs Anastasia Yirenkyi challenged government to take concrete actions towards dealing with the menace of illegal mining which threatened the plant and traditional medicine practice.
“The time has come for government, civil society, traditional authorities and well-meaning Ghanaians to move away from the rhetoric and take more decisive actions to stem the ill activities that destroy our environment because we all know that when the last tree dies, the last man dies,” he said.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH