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Saturday, 31 July 2010 11:56

Incorporate Herbal Medicines Into Health Delivery System

By Gifty Mensah

ACCRA, Ghana, July 31, 2010 (Public Agenda) - The Managing Director of Capital 02 Natural Health Company Limited, Mr. John Daniel Otoo, has called for an incorporation of herbal medicines into the public health delivery system to meet the health needs of Ghanaians across the country.

 

According to Mr. Otoo, countries like China, India and South Africa combined both the orthodox and herbal medicine in their public and private hospitals and clinics, with patients being allowed to choose the one with which they preferred to be treated.

 

He mentioned, however, that many important and powerful drugs like Digoxin, Artesunate, Quinine and Codein were obtained from herbs, adding that there were a host of potentially useful medicinal plants that have never been explored.

 

Mr. Otoo made this call at the launch of the prestigious capital natural exhibition and workshop held in Accra under the theme ?Institutionalization of Herbal Medicine in Ghana.

He also argued that, "most herbal medicines work effectively, and even in some instances, better than orthodox medicines," explaining that what was needed was to gather all the knowledge available on herbal medicines, developed it and tried to regulate the practice and production of herbal medicine.

 

Although herbal medicine is culturally accepted and preferred by most Ghanaians, Mr. Otoo acknowledged some herbal medicines prepared under unhygienic conditions coupled with "infiltration of Charlatans to tarnish the image of herbal medicines."

 

Mr. Otoo appealed to the government to consider ways of developing herbal medicine not only for local consumption but for export, quoting from a phrase, "pity a nation which does not wear clothes made from its silk, or drink wine prepared from its vineyard."

 

In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Hon. Benjamin Kunbuor, mentioned that the health sector was faced with an increasing demand of services through the increasing coverage of health insurance, yet it was constrained by insufficient inputs of human resources medicines and other logistics.

 

The Minister, however, admitted that Ghana needed effective partnerships with key stakeholders, like medical herbal practitioners, in order to "leverage" performance in healthcare delivery, pledging that government would continue to pursue pragmatic interventions to address some of the current challenges facing the practice in the herbal sector.

 

He also confirmed what Mr. Otoo said earlier that medicines like Digoxin, Artesunate, guanidine, ephedrine, reserpine, vincristine, taxol, atropine, morphine, codein currently in use in orthodox medicine today could trace their sources to herbs.

 

In addition, the Minister urged herbal medicine practitioners to endeavor to work with the medical herbalist to enable their "fellow countrymen" to benefit from their knowledge.

The Minister for Chieftaincy and Culture, Hon. Alexander Asum -Ahensah, said despite the doubt and superstition attached to African traditional medicines, it has gradually gained respect because of its great healing potential.

 

He mentioned that it was the time for researchers and practitioners to do their best to promote quality improvement and traditional medicine services to sustain the interest and high patronage by Ghanaians.

 

Hon. Ahensah urged herbal practitioners to find ways of standardizing and regulating the herbal medicine practice to promote herbal medicine's acceptance in the country as a credible health care delivery system.

 

The launch of the exhibition and workshop was organized under the auspices of Faar Event Management in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture and the Ministry of Science and Technology.

 

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