Vanguard (Lagos)

12 September 2012

Nigeria: Traditional Medicine Practitioners Seek FG's Recognition

Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners, TMPs are seeking official recognition by the Federal Government with a view to complementing efforts of orthodox medicine practitioners in providing accessible and affordable healthcare services.

The call for legislation came during the 2012 African Traditional Medicine Day in Lagos, coupled with seeking legislation to integrate and recognise TMP in primary healthcare services.

Speaking, the guest speaker, Prof. of Pharmacognosy, Olukemi Odukoya, noted that besides the international recognition for traditional medicine in primary health care, the Nigerian populace had for long depended on indigenous system of medicine for relief.

Odukoya who noted that 80 per cent of people in the developing countries including Nigeria still depend on traditional medicine blamed it on the fact that on the fact that orthodox medicine is mostly out of reach.

Urging the Lagos State government to domesticate the World Health Organisation, WHO and African Union, AU, recommendations on traditional medicine in the first decade of African Traditional Medicine, she noted that the second decade (2011-2020) provides another opportunity for Nigeria to make health for all goals possible through traditional medicine.

"In some rural areas, TBAs are the only source of assistance and care and deliver over 90 per cent of the births. The workforce presented by TMPs and TBAs is an important resource for the delivery of PHC."

Odukoya added that AU's support for traditional medicine in Africa had, in fact, led to improvement in the area of education, training and research, and expansive use of TM in Nigeria in the last 10 years. Despite this acceptance, however, she expressed worry that herbal medicines had not yet been officially integrated with necessary legal backing.

"The political will of governments to develop traditional medicine and medicinal plants is paramount. The government/legislative assemblies should as a matter of urgency sign into law, the regulation and recognition of the practice and use of these medicines."

Chairman, Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, Dr. Bunmi Omoseyindemi noted the growing evidence that traditional remedies for the treatment of common ailments, including some priority diseases, is effective.

He said THPs currently enjoy considerable social status within their local communities and could play important role in curative, preventive and rehabilitative measures of many diseases as well as in health education and promotion.

Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adeshina said 1,500 TBAs had been trained and certified in Lagos. And through the initiative, "there has been an increase in documented referrals from TBAs to the hospitals and Primary Healthcare Centres."

Adeshina implored the TMPs in the state to practice the profession within the ambit of the state law and follow the codes of conduct and ethics as the government is improving on inspection and monitoring units of traditional medicine board.

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