Today, 31st August 2015, the countries in the WHO African Region celebrate the African Traditional Medicine Day under the theme: “Regulation of Traditional Health Practitioners (THP) in the World Health African Region”.
Current WHO estimates show that for more 80% of the people in the developing world, traditional medicine is the main and sometimes the only source of health care. It is regrettable that research into traditional medicine and its development has not been any funded or adequately funded.
In fact, the celebration of this day provides an excellent opportunity for stakeholders, including governments, especial the government of Cameroon, researchers, traditional and conventional health practitioners, communities, non governmental organization, and development partners in and out of the country, to share information and experiences on Traditional Medicine research, development and regulation in the WHO African Region.
The WHO is supporting the endeavours of countries that are working towards making Traditional Medicine a viable component of their National Health Systems.
As we commemorate this day, I appeal to the government of our country-Cameroon to invest in Traditional Medicine regulation, research and development. This will yield positive returns in the country where Traditional Medicine practices and products have been highly embraced.
There is the need for the government of Cameroon to include Traditional Medicine regulatory strategies in the National Health agenda and create budget lines to support the implementation of the Traditional Medicine Strategy adopted by the WHO Regional Committee for Africa.
The theme of this year’s commemoration highlights the need to establish and strengthen a regulatory system in the country by identifying and supporting qualified practitioners and protecting the public against potentially harmful practices. Adherence to strict regulations in which there is the assurance that Traditional Health Practitioner are properly train will go a long way in ensuring public safety in the provision of quality, safe and effective health care products and services.
Traditional Health Practitioners are an important source of Health Care for many Africans. WHO Statistics indicates that, more than 80% of the population seeks treatment from traditional medicine.
These regulations are more important especially in the rural areas where Traditional Medicine is sometimes the only affordable and available source of healthcare.
I am quite conscious that WHO has developed a range of tools and adequate guidelines including the Model Legal Framework for the Practice of Traditional Medicine, a Regulatory Frame Work for Traditional Medicine including a model code of Ethics. Countries can adapt these important tools to their specific context as an important step towards protecting patients against potentially harmful practices, and for research and development of traditional medicine.
I will end by calling for a stronger partnership involving government, donors, the Private Sector and relevant Stakeholders to take forward this important undertaking in the regulation of Traditional Medicine Practice, its research and development.
God bless you all!