Integrating traditional medical knowledge into mainstream healthcare (6) Integrating modern medical knowledge into traditional medical practice (6)

10 July, 2018

Whether modern medicine is main stream or traditional medicine is, is a dangerous distraction that can only confuse the rural poor, uneducated and ill informed communities in LMICs, and delay patients from the benefits of standardized, evidence informed, quantifiable and measurable health care that has more chances of promoting, preventing, curing and rehabilitating the patient. It will be a great mistake to spend time debating this question as the World celebrates 40th Anniversary of Primary Health Care ( Alma Ata declaration) this year.

Much as it is known that traditional medicine has some benefits, its harm is also known to be one of the reasons that the health and development indices of LMICs have remained intractably low.

It is also known that â??------- rural people do not visitit medical doctors, pharmacies, clinics or hospitals on a regular basis ----â€? because they have no alternative. Where there are functional modern medicine facilities and practitioners, and the communities are educated to eradicate or reduce illiteracy, witchcraft and superstition, they attend these facilities and benefit from better outcomes.

Dhewa said "------Traditional medical practice has a unique way of spreading know-how ---". I would be interested to hear more about this. What know how and how is it uniquely spread?

There is a risk of losing the many health benefits recorded for many communities in recent years, and since the advent of evidence based practice, especially in maternal and child morbidity and mortality, Many studies from LMICs have demonstrated this fact, for instance, BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2013; 13: 189. Published online 2013 Oct 18. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-13-189 . Modern medicine has also demonstrated more positive results controlling non communicable diseases, screening and early diagnosis that impacts prevention and cure positively.

The case of Ebola virus disease epidemic in West Africa in 2014 and the catastrophic effect of preventable deaths occurring as a result of communities being misled to depend on traditional medicine and culture, initially, is still very fresh in the memory of the world. 11,000 patients are reported to have died!.

One study concluded, and we quote, â??Affordability,y, availability and accessibility of ANC providers are the hurdles to ANC utilization in Nigeria. Addressing financial and other barriers to ANC use, quality improvement of ANC services to increase womenâ??s satistisfaction and utilization and ensuring maximal contacts among women, society, and ANC providers are surest ways to increasing ANC coverage in Nigeriaâ??? (BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2015; 15: 95. Published online 2015 Apr 17. doi: 10.1186/s12884-015-0527-y) .

There is no competition, both modern medicine and traditional herbalists have things to learn from the other with modern medicine leading the way because it is regulated, standardised, codified and can be evaluated, and it has evidence of why and how it works to deliver more benefits.

Joseph Ana.

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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