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Traditional Medicine Is Culturally Accepted, Socially Sanctioned 

By Bless Zoshe*

The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of the Garden of Eden International Healing and Research Foundation, Buea, Dr. Richard Fru, has asserted that traditional medicine is culturally acceptable but socially sanctioned. He was speaking at the 9th African Traditional Medicine Day, which was celebrated in Buea, Southwest Region, with focus on the need to preserve medicinal plants.

Commemorative activities held under the theme “Preservation of Medicinal Plants; Africa’s Heritage.” Addressing journalists during a press briefing on August 31, Dr Fru, the organiser, remarked that in recent times, tradi-practitioners have been very vocal about the destruction of medicinal plants, which they consider as ‘’Green Gold’’. He said if these were well researched and documented, they would go a long way to improve upon health needs.

“Before colonisation, Africans depended on traditional medicine. When the colonial masters came, they destroyed all we had, painted it black and scared us away from it,” Dr. Fru averred.
Dr. Fru added that because of the shortcomings of conventional medicine, the World Health Organisation, WHO, stepped in, in 2001, to question why, despite all the technological advancement and high publicity given to conventional medicine, more Africans still rely solely on traditional medicine.

“A research carried out in Europe showed that even those who claim not to consume traditional medicine live on higher plant extracts. Traditional medicine is culturally acceptable and socially sanctioned. It does not involve complicated laboratory processing, use of preservative chemicals and does not infringe on the culture of the African society,” he said. Dr. Fru frowned at some practitioners who carry out indiscriminate harvesting of plants; reason why some are facing enormous threat of extinction.

In spite of such efforts made to uphold traditional medicine, promoters and practitioners are yet to find common grounds with their counterparts in the conventional sector. In a radio interview granted CRTV Buea in the build-up to the celebration, the Regional Delegate of Public Health, Dr John Chuwanga, condemned the unorthodox and muddled up manner in which tradi-practitioners operate.

Over the years, the bone of contention between traditional and conventional medicine, has been on issues of efficacy, safety, quality control and dosage. However, training institutions like the Kwame Nkruma University of Science and Technology, Ghana, have established departments of herbal medicine, to train specialists and provide continuous education for traditional health practitioners.

These institutions have intensified research efforts in areas like malaria, opportunistic infections of People Living with HIV/AIDS and Sickle-cell. African Traditional Medicine Day was instituted on August 31, 2001 by the summit of Heads of State and Governments, held in Lusaka, Zambia, and endorsed during a similar meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, in July 2003.

The day is observed in 46 countries; 39 of which have formulated National Policies on how to integrate Health Systems, as well as regulations on drugs and practitioners. According to WHO statistics, 80 percent of the populations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America still depend largely on traditional medicine, to meet their primary health care needs.

*(UB Journalism Student On Internship)

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