Nigeria is formulating a new health policy to integrate traditional medicine practice into orthodox medicine practice as part of strategies to scale up healthcare delivery in the country.
Onyebuchi Chukwu, Nigeria’s minister of health said last week at a celebration to mark the African Traditional Medicine Day, “government and its relevant agencies are working to ensure that the practice of traditional medicine in Nigeria becomes a respected and acceptable mode of treatment”.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has demonstrated the willingness to promote the development of herbal medicine practice in the country,” he said.
As part of Government efforts to streamline the practice of traditional medicine in the country, the Minister said that government has “set up the Presidential Initiative Committee for the promotion, development, and commercialization of Nigerian medicinal plants”.
He urged traditional medicine practitioners to make their practice evidence based. This according to him was an imperative if the sector would meet up with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
He said that government was working to standardise traditional medicine practice in the country adding that government was already working with the practitioners to overhaul traditional medicine practice in the country.
“This will come in part through the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders in the practice. Medical practice begins with the correct diagnosis of a patient’s ailment,” he added.
He urged the practitioners to be schooled in a number of sciences including anatomy, physiology, pathology and therapeutics.
Chukwu solicited the cooperation of traditional medicine practitioners, especially the herbal medical practitioners on the need to partner government.
He noted the importance of Traditional Medicine in promoting primary health care, a view he said was corroborated by the World Health Organisation’s report that 80 per cent of people worldwide rely on herbal medicines for some aspects of their primary health care.
The 2011 African Traditional Medicine Day, is an initiative of African Union and it has the theme, “Conservation of Medicinal Plants: African Heritage.”
The minister called for unity in the traditional medicine practice in Nigeria noting that so many factions in the system without a unified front would not augur well for the overall objectives of the practice in Nigeria.