Traditional medical practice goes scientific
Story: Lucy Adoma Yeboah
n fulfillment of the Traditional Medical Practice Act of 2000 (Act 575), a total of 47 medical herbal practitioners were last week inducted into a professional body at a ceremony in Accra.
That was after the practitioners had completed four years of Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and two years internship at the Mampong Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine.
The first batch of the group, which were in four batches, completed the programme in 2007 with the last completing this year
The training of the medical herbalists is expected to, among other things, serve as a bridge between the indigenous traditional medicine and the world recognized standards.
The theme for the induction ceremony was “the role of the medical herbalist in healthcare delivery” and is was witnessed by senior officials of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), some members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, health professionals, journalists, relatives of the herbal medical practitioners and well wishers.
As part of the ceremony, the medical herbalists were made to swear the Ghana Medical Herbalist Oath and later presented with Certificates by the Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC), which is under the Ministry of Health, to enable them to practice.
Addressing the graduates, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Robert Joseph Mettle-Munoo, said the scientific training offered the medical herbalists was to enable them to enhance traditional medicine practice in the country, just as was being done in some countries in Asia such as China and India.
He indicated that the GHS was considering ways to engage those cadres of healthcare providers, adding that taking up the challenge would not only “create jobs but also indicate additional positive strides made towards the intended integration of both conventional and non-orthodox medical practices”.
Mr. Mettle-Nunoo pointed out that as a nation with huge herbal/medicinal plant resources, the quest for the development of traditional and alternative medicine could not be over-emphasized.
Undoubtedly, larger segment of the Ghanaian population, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, rely on herbal/medicine for the treatment of ailments. The figure stands between 60 and 80 per cent.
But of that, the knowledge of and practice of traditional medicine has over the years been mainly acquired through an informal system, particularly through oral transmission from generation to generation. Thus, practitioners are to large extent illiterates and semi literates, as research has shown.
With the induction of the medical herbalists, Ghana is poised to move higher in the area of healthcare delivery and to meet international or acceptable standards.
On that basis, the introduction of the training programme BSc (Herbal Medicine) at the KNUST is welcome.
As part of his speech, Mr. Mettle Nunoo, said there was the need to scale up activities in research and development in medicinal plants, coupled with clinical trials, as a means of achieving substantial results in developing the country’s own herbal products and practice in general.
The deputy minister spent in the long period the practitioners spent in school was to equip them effectively to complement the health sector in healthcare delivery.
He noted that majority of Ghanaians preferred herbal medicine, for which reason the practitioners should ensure that they made their services and the various traditional medicines they had been trained to administer available to the people.
Mr. Mettle-Nunoo urged them not to look down on indigenous herbal practitioners who had been in the practice for years to encourage the exchange of ideas from both sides.
The Registrar of the TMPC, Mr. F. K. Hiortsi-Akakpo, observed that all traditional and alternative medicine practice groups, including herbalists, needed attention, support and professional capacity development as deemed reasonable and called for support for all the various groups.
He said any plans, programmes and activities organized by the council would, as informed by the enabling statutes – the Traditional Medicine Practice Act of 2000 (Act 575) – be developed and executed with the involvement of stakeholders, where necessary.
The Chairman for the occasion, Togbe-ga Debra IV, called on the Ministry of Health to establish satellite herbal clinics at the district level where the medical herbalists and those who would come after them could be engaged to care for patients who preferred traditional herbal treatment.
With the induction of the medical herbalists into practice, the country has set the education and sensitisation on advancement herbal medicine to continue to practice rolling. It therefore behoves on the medical herbalist to continue to work hard to advance herbal medicine practice and help achieve the expected results.
Daily Graphic Page: 19 Wednesday, December 8, 2010