The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that positive signs of parallel operation of traditional and conventional health systems for the well-being of their patients are that patient referrals between the two sectors are now routinely taking place in 17 countries.
It also said a total of 24 countries in Africa have also developed codes of conduct and codes of practice for traditional health professionals, to ensure safety and standards of service, as Ghana sets the example for the continent, with the establishment of traditional medicine clinics in 55 regional hospitals to date.
The WHO Regional Director for the African Region, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, also revealed in her 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day message that the WHO is conducting joint missions with partners to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, in the African region. Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda, to follow clinical trials of traditional drug-based therapies proposed for COVID-19, eight of which are underway, adding that countries’ political will to promote these innovations support is inspiring, as is the level of infrastructure and skills available.
Each August 31 is a day established to mark African Traditional Medicine Day, to honor the integral role of traditional medicine in the health and well-being of generations of people on the continent.
Moeti said this year’s theme, “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine Day: Progress Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa,” gives us an opportunity to reflect on the progress toward African traditional medicine that is gaining prominence. it deserves in national health systems”.
“Traditional medicine has been the trusted, acceptable, affordable and accessible source of health care for the African population for centuries. To this day, 80% of the continent’s population rely on traditional medicine for their basic health needs.”
Moeti claimed that since the establishment of African Traditional Medicine Day in 2003, the continent has seen the implementation of WHO’s regional strategies to promote and improve the role of traditional medicine in health systems, 2001-2010 and 2013-2023, as well as action plans for the first (2001-2010) and second decades of African traditional medicine (2011-2020).
“Member States have used the day to catalyze discussion forums on national policies on traditional medicine, the cultivation of medicinal plants, including training of traditional health professionals and their collaboration with their conventional counterparts.
“These activities have prompted more than 40 countries in the African region to develop national policies for traditional medicine by 2022, up from just eight in 2000. Thirty countries have also integrated traditional medicine into their national policies, a 100% improvement over compared to the situation in 2000.
In addition, 39 countries have established regulatory frameworks for practitioners of traditional medicine, compared with just one in 2000, demonstrating good governance and leadership.
“Today, with 34 research institutes in 26 countries dedicated to research and development in traditional medicine, it remains a promising industry, with great commercial potential if marketed appropriately internationally. Twelve of these countries reported having allocated public funds to this research and development over the past ten years.”
“These institutes have used WHO guidelines and protocols to assess the quality, safety and efficacy of traditional drug-based therapies for priority diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell disease and, most recently, COVID-19 . .
“Currently, as opposed to zero in 2000, 17 countries have frameworks for protecting intellectual property rights and traditional medical knowledge.”
“To advance continental efforts for equal access to medical products and technologies, all but eight African Member States are now engaged in large-scale cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants.”
“Nineteen countries have also established facilities for the local production of herbal medicines, with the number of herbal medicines registered by national regulatory authorities in 14 countries rising from just 20 in 2000 to more than 100 this year. More than 45 herbal medicines are now on national lists of essential medicines”.
“Another important step forward is that 25 countries have now integrated traditional medicine into their health science curricula, while 20 countries have established training programs for traditional health professionals and health science students, to strengthen human resources in both traditional medicine and primary health care. Thirty-nine countries have also developed legal frameworks for traditional health workers.”
“Today I call on governments on African Traditional Medicine Day to strengthen cooperation between science, technology and innovation institutions; traditional health professionals and the private sector, to accelerate research and development, and local production of traditional drug-based therapies for the health and well-being of the African population”.
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