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H.Hr.Dr. FRU’S Message On The Occasion of the 9th African Traditional Medicine Day – 31st August 2011

THEME: “Medicinal Plants Preservation: Africa’s Heritage”.

The AU decade for African Traditional Medicine (ATM) was 2001 – 2010. A plan of action was adopted by the AU conference of ministers of Health and endorsed by the 2003 Maputo AU Summit of Heads of States and Governments. The main objective of the plan was to accelerate the recognition, acceptance, development, integration and institutionalization of Traditional Medicine (TM) by member states into the public health care systems in Africa by 2010.

These commitments were made in recognition that Traditional Medicine is not only a health issue, but also an important element of Africa’s cultural heritage which must be protected and preserved. They were also aimed at increased advocacy towards development and promotion of Traditional Medicine, since at least 80% of African population rely on Traditional Medicine and practices for their health needs.

At an international level, the Alma Ata Declaration of Primary Health Care (PHC) which was adopted in 1978 recognized the role of Traditional Medicine (TM) and its practitioners as important allies in achieving health – for – all.

In 2001, the Lusaka Assembly Decision declared the period 2001 – 2010 as the decade for African Traditional Medicine. In this framework the Maputo Summit of 2003 also declared 31st August each year as the day for African Traditional Medicine.

African Traditional Medicine (ATM) under the aegis of WHO/AFRO is organized in all African countries.

The theme of this year, ‘medicinal plants preservation : Africa’s Heritage’  rekindles our mind to reflect on the relationship established with our environment and the vegetable world in particular in particular from which we draw our resources for our health and balance.

Going by the publication of Dr Eric Gbodossouo, president of PROMETRA International, medicinal plants are the back bone of any true human medicine that guarantees health, which is the driving force behind any development. Infact, medicinal plants are a frame of traditional medicine.

Though traditional medicine  (TM) takes care of more than 80% of Africans (WHO statistics), the repressive laws since the colonial period still hinders legal text for its institutionalization into the National Health System(NHS). The medicinal system is still tributary to the west in which pharmaceutical philosophy continues to cause damage to Africa and the whole world.

The action of African ministries of health only centers on conventional medicine (CM) at the expense of the health and life of its population.

In Europe, 400 medicinal species received a summation on May 3, 2011, to be withdrawn from the market, because of toxic parabenes and carcinogene which they contain. Several of these prescribed products are still in our pharmacies in Africa-what a suicidal risk we are exposed to!!.  Apart from all the risk of these synthesized drugs they equally expose their limitation or weaknesses toward multi-resistant bacterial at the origin of invasive infections. Vaccines are not also left out-they do not get yet the immunization so expected especially for children as one vaccinates again and again with excess.

It is a matter of necessity to salute bold action of individuals or researchers and for research groups like our foundation-Dr Fru’s GEIHR Foundation in their relentless effort in their education, promotion and preservation of medicinal plants in particular and green revaluation in general for positivity.

The vegetable resource of the African continent includes 17% of the plant forest coverage. Africa has all the assets to develop its Green Gold and to make of it a germine engine of its sustainable development. The genetic resources and the traditional knowledge which applies to it constitute the Green Gold of which 90%are in the third world—preserving the plants, trees is preserving life. Folk imaginary has resumed that following analogical symbolism “Go toward the tree so that the saps of the plant restore the circulation of your sap which is your blood”.

In Africa, the community culture of medicinal plants conservation is all the more spontaneous and natural, that it falls under a cosmogony which make sacred the tree for a localization for religious matters, spiritual ones, life, death and rebirth. It is added to this community culture several agrarian rites which praise the vegetal world and the preventive/curative virtue of medicinal plants. The reverse of these cultures goes to western pharmaceutical exploiters who abusively exploit these vegetal environments.

The conservation of medicinal plants should go hand in hand, with respect of the integrity of the botanical universe which influences their quality alkaloids and pheromones interactivity of these directions. One of the strong lessons that one could draw from the African legacy consists in privileging the natural growth of the medicinal plants. Such a growth process requires the suitable space which guarantees all vegetal magnetism necessary for the blooming of their therapeutic virtues – A leaf picked from a tree with doted virtues would present different other ones, which is collected from the ground of its nature genetic pool. It is therefore necessary to pay attention to unicity of the subjected ecosystem. This precaution makes it possible to take care of the effectiveness of the active ingredient of the medicinal plants widely offered by nature.

Today, Africa’s heritage is the whole of botanical universe and the conservation of the medicinal plants and which is a force of knowledge for so many therapeutic researches is being abused for a long time now by colonial policy makers.

To win this bet, political decision makers, non official actors and development partners, civil society and all sectors concerned must be invested for the configuration of the botanical surface, in true maguis of ecological resistance and fight against active deforestation and the plundering of the genetic resources. With this intension it is important

  • To introduce Traditional Medicine in the natural health system and to guarantee to each citizen the free choice of his / her medicine.
  • To make operational all ratified agreements relating to the protection of the bio diversity.
  • To coordinate a sub regional and regional levels, actions of protection of the biodiversity.
  • To protect the community forest resources and too associate the local communities with their management.
  • To allocate consistent budgets with research on medicinal plants.
  • To develop the results of research of the medicinal plants.
  • To make an inventory of the medicinal plants and to protect them from the abusive patent fillings and the bio piracy in general.
  • To imply association of health tradi-practitioners in the scientific programs of conservation of medicinal plants.
  • To reinforce the institutional capacities of NGO and actors of civil society in their fight for a healthy environment for sustainable development.

In fact, the theme of this 9th African Traditional Medicine Day (ATMD) was to activate our minds, in order to avoid that one comes tomorrow, in our place to teach our descent and to exploit with our detriment, our botanical heritage.

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