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Promoting traditional medicine

Sep 1, 2010, 2:36 PM

Traditional Medicine has always been a source of health care for many people in the world, including in the Gambia. Traditional African medicine involves the use of herbal concoctions and traditional rituals to treat a patient.

In some Asian and African countries, 80 percent of the population depends on traditional medicine for primary health care.

Therefore, it is our duty to analyze all the existing potentials of traditional medicine, and encourage those who are practicing it for the betterment of our people.

At the same time, we should also encourage the scientific community to undertake research to improve the current practice. In the Gambia, many people use traditional medicine and many herbalists are in the practice.

However, there is a need for the country to put in place legislation to regulate the practice.

From time immemorial, Africans have been using traditional medicine, and most of the time when people are sick their first port of call is the traditional healers. And, in fact, some of the time, the herbs are very effective.

Nonetheless, the challenge is that some of the practitioners do not know the right quantity to give out to patients, which sometimes causes more harm than good.

As the continent commemorated the eight edition of African Traditional Medicine Day yesterday 31st August, the theme "Traditional Medicine Decade, Progress So Far" is an important one in drawing attention to the progress made towards integrating traditional medicine in the health system. We congratulate all the practitioners.

Despite the doubts in some herbs, it is important for us as Africans to appreciate the power of herbs. Many decades ago, in this country, when access to hospitals and doctors was not easy, people depended entirely on the traditional healers. We, therefore, encourage our people to value the strength in herbs.

Since traditional medicine is accessible to the majority of the population, it plays an important role in health care delivery. It is time to embrace the concept, and further develop its art and science for the benefit of all humanity.

We should, therefore, promote research, integration and collaboration between the practitioners of modern medicine and those of traditional medicine, based on scientific approaches and experience.

In marking the day, it is also an opportunity for us to reflect on some of the achievements registered in the country by traditional healers.

For instance, a national traditional health policy has been drafted, and an association of traditional healers is also in existence.

We hope that the successes would not stop there, but expect that the country would have a law on traditional medicine soon.

"My opinion, however, is that they (herbs) are superior 95% of the time to any pharmaceutical drug!"

Willner, M.D.