By Milcah Tanimu
In a resolute commitment to advance traditional medicine, the Federal Government is poised to implement favorable policies and invest in scientific research and innovation. Dr. Adetunji Alausa, the Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, underscored this determination during the 2023 African Traditional Medicine (ATM) day event in Abuja.
The World Health Organization (WHO) designates August 31 as ATM Day, emphasizing the integration of traditional medicine into national health systems. Dr. Alausa stressed the need for traditional healers to access proper training, research opportunities, and necessary resources to standardize their skills in alignment with global best practices. The Minister advocated for a comprehensive healthcare system that harmonizes modern and traditional medical practices.
Nigeria is set to marshal evidence-based initiatives to support traditional medicine, recognized as a vital resource for addressing health and well-being needs. Collaborating with partners like WHO, West African Health Organization (WAHO), China, and India, Nigeria aims to develop and commercialize traditional medicine for local use.
Dr. Alausa emphasized that traditional medicine holds significant sway in Nigeria, with studies indicating its usage as high as 81.6%. The government’s multifaceted approach includes favorable policies, political and institutional backing, the utilization of Nigeria’s rich biodiversity, scientific research, and innovation. Additionally, there will be due respect for indigenous resources and intellectual property rights.
Noteworthy strides by the Ministry of Health include the establishment of the Department of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine (TCAM), policy reviews, the creation of the Nigeria Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Nigeria Essential Medicinal Plants List (NEMPL), and the development of a database for traditional medicine practitioners. The ministry has also provided comprehensive training on various aspects of traditional medicine.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, hailed the pivotal role of traditional medicine in Africa, with approximately 80% of the population relying on it for healthcare needs. He applauded member states for integrating traditional medicine into their health systems, encompassing education, training, and legal frameworks.
Dr. Moeti urged member states to further harness the potential of traditional medicine for research, local manufacturing, and commercialization. He called for the seamless integration of traditional medicine into national health systems, a pivotal step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Addressing concerns about quackery within the profession, Dr. Onyemechi Uzu, CEO of Ruzu Herbal Products, advocated for practitioner registration and the maintenance of a comprehensive database to validate their expertise and specialized areas.
The Federal Government’s unwavering commitment to fortify traditional medicine underscores its pivotal role in providing accessible and cost-effective healthcare solutions for the Nigerian populace.