Integrating traditional medical knowledge into mainstream healthcare (3)

4 July, 2018

In reacting to some postings on the topic above, we ask, are medical errors and malpractice 'increasing' or are they just better reported because of improvement and quality initiatives, media and ICT generally?

On traditional medicine, while we join others to welcome the trend to embrace Traditional medicine (TM) into main stream modern medicine, we say that part of the reason for the 'delay' in embracing traditional medicine includes the unwillingness of the practitioners to open up their practice to scientific regulatory scrutiny and fear of losing revenue if they shared their knowledge and/or skills. Even when some of them are informed about patent laws. In addition, we go back a bit, at least as far as Nigeria is concerned, to show that TM has had a place in the Health system for a while. It is not just happening now, rather it is only gathering steam, following a trajectory-

NIPRD was established by Federal Government order No. 33 Vol. 74 of 11th June 1987 part B under the Science and Technology Act Cap 276. The overarching goal for the establishment of the Institute was to carry out research and development of drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials based on indigenous resources. NIPRD commenced operation in the year 1989. Today, NIPRD is a parastatal of the Federal Government of Nigeria under the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH). The Federal Government under the Leadership of Chief Olusegun Obasonjo through Prof. Eyitayo Lambo the then Minister of Health established the NANTMP on December 19, 2006. Then two weeks ago, at the National Council on Health meeting in Kano, Nigeria the Minister of Health announced that a Department of Traditional medicine was to be established in the Federal Ministry of Health. And August 31st every year has been marked as African Traditional Medicine day, coinciding with the date, August 31, 2000, on which the ministers of health adopted the relevant resolution at the 50th session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

As Prof Honolu Konotey, renowned Ghanaian sickle cell physician said, ‘--------- we therefore need to collect and record all anecdotes, including the embarrassing and most primitive ones. By sifting through them carefully we can use our scientific knowledge not only to discard harmful practices, but also discover hidden treasures.’

We recall that a prominent Nigerian physician and Human Rights activist once said ‘it is not possible to compare omolanke (a local hand-moved truck on two wheels usually made out of wood) with the space shuttle simply because they are both modes of moving men and materials’. He was referring to the need for clarity about Traditional Medicine as a whole and about its terminologies (Traditional medicine / Traditional Healing / Herbalist / etc), curriculum (pre service and post), and regulation of practitioners and access to medicaments /condiments.

Separating substance from dangerous chaff is the challenge ahead even as modern scientific medicine finally embraces Traditional Medicine..

Joseph Ana

Africa Center for Clin Gov Research & Patient Safety

@ HRI West Africa Group - HRI WA

Consultants in Clinical Governance Implementation

Publisher: Health and Medical Journals

8 Amaku Street Housing Estate, Calabar

Cross River State, Nigeria

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HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group:

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