MORE than 60 per cent of Ghanaians are said to be relying on traditional medicine. In addition, a reliable statistics show that the number of traditional medicine practitioners in the country is more than 20,000.
At the West Africa Health Association (WAHO) Day in Accra on July 9, the Minister of Health, Dr Benjamin Kunbour said the public health sector intended to implement plans on integration of traditional and complementary medicine that had seen continuing development of the programme-of-work (POW) of the health sector for more than two decades.
The theme for the commemoration was "Promoting Quality Improvement and Rational Use of Traditional Medicines".
The Health of Minister said "The integrative health care programme is expected to contribute to job creation, disease prevention and the well being of the population".
The above stated figures is a clear indication in which traditional medicine had been a source of job as well as health care of many Ghanaians.
As part of the commemoration an exhibition was mounted at the premises of the British Council where a wide range of herbal medicines were displayed either for sale or for just for show to the public.
Among the herbal preparations were anti-malaria medicines, medicines for skin diseases, sores, boils, piles, aphrodisiac, bodily pains, body cream, soap and many more.
Prominent among the exhibitors was the Council for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine at Mampong Akuapem which displayed variety of well packaged medicines which syrups, capsules, powders and creams, among other preparations.
Addressing the participants who were mainly traditional medical practitioners, Dr Kunbour touched on an issue which had been a source of worry to many Ghanaians which is the case of advertising ones ability to cure diseases.
He took the opportunity to remind health care providers to desist from claiming publicly their ability to cure certain diseases which is contrary to the law.
"The Food and Drugs Board (FDB) PNDC Law 305B Section 15 Schedule 11, prohibits advertisements for some listed diseases which include severe infectious diseases, diseases related to reproductive health, pregnancies and important/ vital organs of the body”, the Minister indicated.
Under the law, a medical enterprise may make discrete announcements about opening, working hours and services offered but not to go into details concerning certain diseases.
Although clients who benefited from a particular health care facility could advertise the services of such a practitioner, the practitioner involved could not use the same comments by the clients to make advertised claims.
For his part, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) Dr Elias Sory who was the Chairman for the occasion said very soon traditional medicine would be seen in the country's public sector health care facilities.
Dr Sory, who personally vouched for the efficacy and efficiency of some local herbal preparations said there was enough evidence to show that traditional medicine had been used effectively in time past adding that the only challenge was the fact that there were no documentation to ensure continues use of such medicines.
Manufacturers were however advised to endeavour to make their products available when the time came to sustain their use in the public health sector.
It be would be wrong for hospitals to start prescribing herbal medicines in hospitals only to realise that their supply was not continues. That would be a disincentive to those who advocated the use of such medicines in the hospitals.
It is important for Agya Kwaku Appiah and his group in the traditional medical practice to take advantage of the move and prove a point to all who do not believe in traditional medicine.
When he was given the opportunity to welcome the participants, the Director of Human Resource at the Ministry of Health, Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira said there were sound reasons for traditional medicine to be promoted and integrated into mainstream health care.
The Chairman of the Traditional Medical Council, Dr E.N Mensah called for adequate funding for the training of medical herbalists and also advised practitioners to go according to the code of ethics of the practice to win support and respect by all.
The Director in charge of Traditional and Alternative Medicine at the MOH, Mr Peter Arhin stated that the WAHO had support Ghana and the other ECOWAS member-states to develop their individual traditional medicines for the benefit of their peoples.
The Focal Person of WAHO at the MOH, Mrs Emma Osei Agyeman educated the participants on the issues of WAHO and the moves the organisation was making to improve on traditional medicine practice in the member countries.
As part of the event, there was a launch of a new traditional medicine documents for the strategic period 2010 to 2014. There was also an exhibition of some traditional medicines.
July 9 has been set aside to review activities of the West Africa Health Organisation. The day is to promote international collaboration in combating health challenges in the sub-region and facilitate sustainable improvements in health programmes and outcomes.