CULTURAL NEWS – (EDITORIAL)
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
THE HERBAL MEDICINE MATTER
THE launch of guidelines for the registration of traditional medicine practitioners by the Ministry of Health is a welcome development.
The World Health Organization says that out of every 10 people, eight seek primary health care from traditional medicine practitioners.
WHO also estimates that Ghana is one of the countries where the first line of treatment for 60 per cent of children with high fever resulting from malaria is the use of herbal medicines.
At the guidelines launch ceremony in Sunyani earlier this week, Deputy Health Minister Dr. Gladys Ashitey reportedly called on relevant agencies to partner the Ministry to make the implementation of the guidelines a success.
She noted that it is time to move from anecdotal reports of success in using traditional medicines to systematic documentation of scientific evidence of the usefulness of herbal medicines in healthcare.
However, some would even say that the registration is long overdue, considering the important role traditional medicine plays in the country’s health care.
We recall that a year ago, an exercise was started to get all traditional medicines registered in the Essential Herbal Medicines List (EHML) throughout the country. A nine member committee of experts was constituted by the Ministry of Health to mount exhibitions in all regions to select traditional medicines that would be registered under EHML.
After that exercise, medicines selected were to be registered for use in hospitals and other health facilities, it was reported.
Are the guidelines for registration of the practitioners complementary? And is it the case that more than one good year after the announcement about the EHML, the guidelines for the registration of the people in the forefront of traditional medicine practice are now being known?
We also recall that recently it was reported that graduates of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Traditional Medicine Programme have not yet been absorbed into the public service.
In spite of having qualified at university they are reportedly jobless. What is going on?
It is reported that at the launch in Sunyani the chairman for the occasion made the commendable suggestion that the Ministry should establish an institution to properly train practitioners in herbal health delivery.
However, if those who have graduated from the KNUST Programme are jobless, we wonder what incentives there is for others to opt for such training.
Evidently, from the reported initiatives on herbal medicine, the Ministry is keen to make use of the tremendous knowledge and expertise of traditional medicines that exists in the country. And we appreciate its apparently cautious approach to the integration into mainstream health delivery.
However, as the WHO findings are that a large percentage of the population is already relying on traditional medicine, the Ministry needs to speed up its documentation and integration processes for best results for the country.
The Ghanaian Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2007 Page: 4