The Traditional and Alternative Medicine Council (TMPC), under the Ministry of Health, is to clamp down on unlicenced and unregistered herbal medicine practitioners that continue to infiltrate the industry.
Acting Registrar, Dr Mrs Anastasia Yirenkyi, has thus asked practitioners yet to register with the Council or renew their annual licence to do so or risk the consequences.
She was speaking in a media interview at the inauguration of a 12-member governing board of the TMPC in Accra last Friday.
“Our primary aim now is to properly regulate the industry and weed out the quacks in the system who sit on the radios, televisions and in the communities selling products and sharing unproven knowledge and claims.
We have set up a taskforce to ensure that all persons purporting to practice herbal medicine are in conformity with the law and their products do not pose a risk to consumers,” she said.
Dr Yirenkyi, who is also Director for Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate (TAM-D) at the Ministry, explained that perTMPC Act 575, 2007, practitioners ought to renew their licences, premises and certificates annually to stay in practice.
She said,the Council, as part of sanitising the sector, was working at merging all herbal medicine practitioners into one body under the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Associations (GHAFTRAM)to enhance knowledge and technology transfer among other interventions to improve the practice.
According to Dr Yirenkyi, traditional and herbal medicine had enormous value not only for the health of the populace but to boost economic growth.
“Just as countries like China, India and others have been exploring their plant medicine and raking in billions for their economy, we can have same if we build the sector well.
We can promote job creation, derive enough funds for instance from the cultivation of medicinal plant, harvesting of the plants, manufacturing of herbal medicine, support research etc to build the economy.
Dr Yirenkyi said with the incorporation of science in herbal medicine practice, the industry had a bright future and called for unity, empathy and professionalism among practitioners to uphold trust in the sector.
“Everybody is now turning to nature for their health. Everybody wants healthy living now and resorting to our naturally grown herbal plants and medicines as their primary health care and we must ensure we do not fail them,” she advised.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu charged the new board to ensure that beyond licensing, Ghana’s herbal products and knowledge are commercialised.
“The same plants and herbs used by the Chinese to make the green teas we highly export can be found here locally. These were what we used to prepare “odido” for malaria and other diseases as children yet till date we haven’t been able to package these well for export.
“We still do not produce a single active ingredient for medicine production in the country, all are imported and the board must sit up and work hard to position traditional medicine as a highly effective and patronised alternative.”
For his part, the Chairperson of the board, Mr William Kojo Odum Eduful, promised that “before our term ends, we shall do our best to help achieve a healthy population with traditional medicines.”
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH