By Franca Ofili
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on governments, research institutions, practitioners and the private sector to strengthen collaboration around traditional medicine research and production in the continent.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the WHO estimates around 80 per cent of the population on the African continent relies on traditional medicine for their basic health needs.
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa made the call in a statement on the 2021 African Traditional Medicine Day celebrated every Aug. 31.
According to her, the African Traditional Medicine Day is celebrated to promote the important role of the continent’s rich biodiversity of medicinal plants and herbs in improving well-being.
“ For generations, the vast majority of people across the continent have relied on traditional medicine as the main source of their health care needs, as it is trusted, acceptable, affordable and accessible,’’ she said.
She said many Africans who previously saw traditional medicine as inferior to orthodox ones often resort to it when the latter fail to cure their ailment.
Moeti said that the organisation was expecting the trial results of traditional medicine therapies from 12 countries, including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Africa.
“Therefore, I encourage governments to create an enabling environment to facilitate collaboration between research institutes, practitioners, private organisations and other stakeholders in the trado-medicinal sector to ramp up local capacities to develop traditional medicines,’’ she said.
Moeti said that with the support of national and district authorities, traditional health practitioners were also leading the charge in building buy-in for COVID-19 prevention measures and referring patients for timely care.
“Now, as part of the COVID-19 response, promising traditional medicine therapies are emerging.
“In Cameroon for example, the Ministry of Health has approved two products as complementary therapies for COVID-19.
“Madagascar’s herbal remedy, COVID-Organics Plus Curative, is in phase III trials and encouraging preliminary results have been reported.
“We look forward to the final results of this trial, and of trials underway for different products in 12 other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa,’’ she said.
Moeti said that at the highest levels, the pandemic has improved awareness of the value of traditional medicine.
She said that investing more in research and development would contribute to harnessing homegrown solutions to improve well-being on the continent and in other parts of the world.
According to her, natural remedies are burgeoning in popularity in western countries and have a long history in China, India and other places.
She said in Africa, the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic had started to stabilise, although the number of new cases was still very high with almost 248,000 reported in the past week.
Moeti, therefore, urged countries to increase their vaccination drive to get their citizens vaccinated as more vaccine supplies were getting into the continent.
NAN reports that the decision to observe an African Traditional Medicine Day follows the adoption in 2000 of a resolution on Promoting the role of traditional medicine in health systems. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)