Message of the Founding President of GENIWA, H Hr Dr Richard Fru on the occasion of the 14th Traditional Medicine Day, 31st August 2016.
Theme: “Regulation of Traditional Medicine Products in the African Region”
The commemoration of African Traditional Medicine Day (ATMD) coincides with the date, 31st August 2000, on which the ministers of Health adopted the relevant resolution at the 50th session of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
WHO statistics stand that over 80 percent of African population relies on Traditional Medicine(TM) for their basic health needs, and in some cases TM is the only health care service available, accessible and affordable to many people in the Continent.
Hence the significant contribution of TM as a major provider of health care services in Africa cannot be underestimated.
After recognizing the important role TM plays in African societies, in July 2001 at Lusaka (Zambia) summit, African Heads of States took a historical position, making 2001-2010 the decade (first) for the rehabilitation of African Traditional Medicine.
They urged member states and their governments to formally recognize and develop the knowledge of TM and mobilize its use for the achievement of health for all.
TM is Africa’s GREEN GOLD that will run tomorrow’s world and contribute enormously in the development of the African Continent.
Interest in TM products is growing exponentially all over the world except in Africa.
Africa is one of the main world producers of medicinal plants and many of them are well known in International markets.
TM is the GREEN GOLD of the continent and as such determines the future of the continent. It is therefore of paramount importance for our governments to give pride of place for TM, consider it as an urgent task the regulation of TM products if we want a future for our continent because, TM is our Heritage, our Culture, our way of life, our pride and our future.
More than 400 drugs banned in the Western World are officially on sale in pharmacies in our continent and they are killing millions. World Custom Organization (WCO) is making several huge seizures of them in the ports (airports and seaports) each year. Many of our Orthodox Medicine practitioners are unaware of these unreliable, toxic and bad drugs, and they keep prescribing and using them on millions of our population daily, and leading to untold health damages and deaths.
Health is the base of all developments and so should not be abandoned in exogenic hands but in endogenic hands. It should be entrusted into the hands of those who master our history and cultural heritage; it should be entrusted in the hands of those who do not violate our physical, mental, social and spiritual rights. It should be entrusted into the hands of those who do not violate the right of our body over itself.
Presently, ATM has proven superior over the limitations of western pharmaceutical / laboratory medicines in the management of mental illnesses, degenerative diseases, viral infections, psychosomatic diseases, bone fractures, metabolic diseases and in many acute, chronic and complicated health crises which, most often are undefined in the Orthodox Laboratories.
It is therefore high time for Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) to mobilize, organize seminars, conferences, workshops, fairs for TM products, and carry out manifestations in the form of advocacy with our governments, to educate and sensitize them on the need to act in line with the resolution of WHO that was endorsed by African Heads of States in promoting Traditional Medicine, regulating and integrating it into the National Health System. I will still reiterate that, there is the urgent need for the regulation of Traditional Medicine Products for any meaningful development in Cameroon in particular and Africa in general because plants products are our Green Gold that has been neglected or abandoned in pursuance of foreign products and at the expense of our health, life and our economy.
Africa Traditional Medicine (ATM) is our socio-cultural heritage with unique and amazing socio-economic benefits that have been minimized or paid very little attention to, due to colonial negative influence. Even though ATM is our heritage whose efficacy, safety and utilization has been tested and proven within time immemorial, not much significant progress on its development and utilization had taken place due to colonial suppression, foreign religious blackmail in particular, the carefree attitude of most Africa medical scientists and worst of all the absolute lack of patriotism and political will by our governments.
The gradual extinction of our forest, and forest products and the inevitable disappearances of the age Traditional Medical Practitioners are posing a threat to our rich cultural heritage. These calls for an immediate action to be taken that will cause us to begin to learn, acquire and document our medical cultural endowment for the benefit of all Africans and indeed the entire mankind, and for posterity.
The degree of sensitization and mobilization by the World Health Organization has encouraged many individuals and some African countries to commence serious development on ATM. I regret that our government in Cameroon is not putting in any noticeable effort in the promotion and regulation of TM; there is no noticeable effort indeed that can be quoted anywhere in the world.
There are a few guidelines outlined by WHO Regional Director on the responsibilities of all African nations for the realistic development of Africa Traditional Medicine in order to sustain our health agenda and perpetuate our culture, without which no visible development is possible in Africa. I am calling on the government officials to come back home with their senses, and begin to operate in line with the vision of WHO and that of patriotic African Leaders working in the interest of the African Continent.
I will also take the opportunity to congratulate African States / governments that have taken the initiative, worked so hard to promote, regulate and integrate Traditional Health Practitioners and Traditional Medicine Products into their National Health Systems. I challenge the consciousness of government officials, NGOs and civil societies to think positively out of the boxes of greedy colonial influences so that we can be patriotic enough in recognizing, developing and promoting our natural heritage-Traditional Medicine which is our culture, our way of life, our pride and our future. In fact, we need the contribution of all these stakeholders in strengthening African Traditional Medicine in order to enable it meet its important role in the society.
I equally want to acknowledge the role played by the media in promoting ATM even though under unfavorable and threatening atmosphere created by officials under Western manipulations.
In conclusion, I will like to thank all of you present for coming to participate in the commemoration of the Fourteenth (14th) African Traditional Medicine Day at Wonya Mavio, Buea.
God Bless you
H Hr Dr Richard Fru