The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Associations (GHAFTRAM), has launched the celebration of the 19th Traditional Medicine Week, and the 16th African Traditional Medicine Day in Accra.
The theme for the celebrations which would be held at the Kumasi Technical University, in the Ashanti Region, from August 29 to August 31, 2018, was: “Local Manufacturing of the Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region”.
Mr Kingsley Aboagye-Gyedu, a Deputy Minister of Health, speaking at the media launch on Wednesday, said the theme was rightfully and carefully chosen in the dispensation of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) three, which sought to achieve health for all, at all ages.
He defined traditional medicine as the total combination of knowledge and practices used in diagnosing, preventing or eliminating physical, mental or social diseases, relying mainly on past experiences and observations handed down from generation to generations.
He therefore underscored the importance of traditional medicine in health care delivery, saying it was the first source for over 80 per cent of the population in developing countries.He stated that the country had over the years seen the evolution and re-invention of traditional medicine in its various forms, to play a true significant role in the delivery of healthcare in the country.
“This is not by accident. It is the result of a deliberate policy to redefine and encourage the enhancement of capacities and capabilities of various players in this sector”, he said.Mr Aboagye-Gyedu said the African Traditional Medicine Day, had since 2003 been commemorated annually by all countries in the Region, during which Traditional and Conventional health practitioners, scientists, Non-governmental Organisations and stakeholders carried out joint activities such as exhibitions, debates, seminars, panel discussions and cultural shows.
The programmes, he said, were hence planned to engage stakeholders and the public in multi-media information, education and communication on the local manufacture of herbal Medicinal products to improve their safety, quality and efficacy for posterity, and to obtain official policy statements for the rational use of herbal medicines and medicinal plants in Ghana.
He said the players had worked largely together to bring the country to its present stage where traditional medicine could be confidently celebrated.He commended GHAFTRAM, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Traditional Medicine Practice Council, the Centre for Plant Medicine Research in Mampong, Akuapem, the various Universities, as well as policymakers at the Ministry of Health (MOH), led by the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate (TAMD) for their collaborative roles towards the successes chalked.
Dr Anastasia Yirenkyi, the Acting Director, TAMD, MOH, said Ghana has developed medicinal plants monographs and herbal pharmacopeias of which the first and second editions have been published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
She said the MOH was committed to protecting the health of all Ghanaians by strengthening the regulatory agencies to ensure the quality, safety and efficacy of medicinal products and services including herbal preparations, conventional pharmaceutical products and medical devices.
She therefore urged private health facilities to work in collaboration with practitioners, to produce scientific evidence of their products and services, saying the standardisation, efficacy, quality, availability and preservation of medical products and services both allopathic and traditional, had become a major concern to policymakers, health professionals as well as the public.
However, the improvement of the quality of products and services could be achieved by deliberate implementation of good agricultural practices at the point of cultivation of medicinal plants and good manufacturing practices and packaging of finished products, as well as post-marketing quality assurance surveillance.
Additionally, following the current sustained improvements in quality control and regulatory measures in many countries globally, it was envisaged that in the near future, Ghana would take hold of regulation of all products and services, to ensure safety, quality and efficacy.
Dr Yirenkyi however said the gains made over the years in the development of traditional medicine, could be marred by ‘galamsey’ or illegal mining activities, which, was destroying valuable medicinal plants, and could also affect the quality and safety of these herbs due to the concentration of heavy metals used by the miners.
She called for strengthened media collaboration and support for the government’s efforts to effectively halt illegal mining, especially in forest areas and around water bodies, and to also get rid of quack operators, in order to make traditional medicine an important driving force of the economy.
Nana Kwadwo Obiri, the National Organiser of GHAFTRAM, called on all traditional medicine practitioners to register with the Association, which currently had a nationwide membership of 40,600, saying they would gain additional knowledge including modern global technology advancements, from the regular training sessions for members.