Traditional Medicine Practice (TMP) has been a significant part of the history of medicine in Ghana.
Herbal medicine has been, and still is used to treat all kinds of ailments; Bruises, malaria, fever, sexual and reproductive health issues, menstrual irregularities, skin disorders and now, preparations that control the spread of AIDS in people living with HIV and other complex ailments, have been said to have been developed by herbal medical practitioners.
Traditional medicine practitioners use plant parts such as leaves, stems, roots, seeds, fruits, flowers, tree barks, etc., which have been found to have essential medicinal properties to cure diseases.
These plant parts are made into various forms, fresh, dried, cut-in-pieces, powder, ointment, oil extract, liquid, lotion, etc.
to treat ailments.
In Ghana, the proliferation of Herbal Medicine and the treatment of myriads of diseases by a single medical preparation have created erroneous impressions in the minds of some people.
Concerns have been raised about the safety and efficacy of herbal concoctions in terms of their preparation, hygiene, dosage of administration, packaging etc.
As a result, many people have doubted the quality and potency of local herbal remedies.
Others say they believe in the efficacy of plant medicine, but are not comfortable making the choice because they feel not much has been done in terms of having formal regulatory bodies to control the activities especially of private traditional medicine practice in Ghana.
Notwithstanding the wrong impressions, many people still patronize herbal medicine.
Some say they choose herbal drugs over pharmaceutical ones because they believe their natural base make them more effective in treating certain ailments with fewer side effects.
The way forward:
Recognizing the role of traditional medical practice in the country, herbal treatment has been incorporated into Ghana’s health care delivery program.
As such, research institutions and other relevant bodies have been set up to ensure the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine and practice.
The Faculty of Pharmacy at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi for instance runs a degree program in Herbal Medicine to maintain and preserve the knowledge and use of traditional medicine as an alternative to orthodox ones.
The Center for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine at Mampong in the Eastern Region has been established to carry out research into plant medicine, address issues of quality and safety in herbal drug use by scientifically validating the therapeutic effects of herbal preparations.
Also, Herbal Medicine Practitioners have formed Associations to regulate their activities, learn from each other and receive formal training to be able to practice their profession in a more organized and trusted manner.
Furthermore, Herbal Units have been established in some government hospitals to promote herbal medical practice in the country.
In February this year, a Herbal Unit was commissioned at the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly Hospital at Teshie, Accra.
The Police Hospital in Osu, Accra has also begun operating its herbal unit to take care of persons who prefer Traditional Medicine treatment.
Plans to introduce herbal treatment units in some 17 other government hospitals across the country are also far advanced.
A Medical Herbalist at the Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly Hospital, Ms Esi Woode, told Citi News in an interview that several patients have been treated with herbal remedies since the establishment of the unit in February this year.
Opanin Kofi Budu, a private herbal practitioner and a member of the registered Physic and Herbalist Association (PHA) also said in an interview that many people choose herbal treatment over pharmaceutical drugs because plant based treatments are relatively safer, in that they have less chemical effects on the body as compared to chemical based medications.
He said plant medicine offer profound curative benefits, are less expensive and readily available.
According to him, common skin disorders like eczema and pimples are better cured with natural herbal remedies because they are gentle on the skin.
With the support for what is being done by governments and private institutions to promote Traditional Medicine Practice in Ghana, it is obvious that the role of Traditional Medicine Practice in Ghana cannot be underestimated.
There is the need for stakeholders to do more to correct misconceptions and get more people interested in and comfortable with Traditional Herbal Medicine.
Research institutions should be well equipped to carry out extensive research into plant medicine.
There should be regulatory bodies to strictly monitor the operations and facilities especially of private herbal medical practitioners.
Regular skill development training for practitioners and the incorporation of modern technology into the practice would bring improvement into the industry.
With better structures in place, I believe many people would conveniently choose Traditional Herbal Medicine, which is known to be efficient, safe and natural alternative to healthy living.
By: Vera Asokwa Ofori/Citifmonline.com