Is there a role for trado-medicine in the Nigerian health sector? (23)

10 January, 2019

1. Chris Zielinski (UK) writes: "Neil says, 'In this debate about the pros and cons of traditional medicine, it would perhaps be helpful if we could look at this from the perspective of patients with specific healthcare needs.' The first need many patients in rural areas of developing countries have is finding anybody who knows anything to care for them..."

This is quite true and, as Susan Stasi (USA) has said, "It is the very reason that well trained CHWs are so sorely needed."

2. Emmanuel O. Ogbadoyi (Nigeria) writes: "Rather than seeing very little in traditional medicine, what is important to do is to modernize it. It is a well-known fact that some traditional based therapies are very effective even as the much talked about active ingredients are unknown. Considering the fact that traditional medicine is not alternative medicine greater majority in Africa, where there is practical evidence for efficacy, let there be movement from the bedside to the bench in the process of modernization."

I do not think anyone 'sees very little in traditional medicine'. As with modern medicine, our aim with traditional medicine should be to identify and verify the benefits where they exist, and minimise the harms (direct and indirect).

It would be helpful to specify which traditional treatments are effective for which disorders, and as Emmanuel suggests, to formally test and identify the active ingredients. It would be good to hear the perspective of those who are involved in such testing and in extracting active ingredients (are there any ethnopharmacologists among us?)

Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: