12 April 2018

Ethiopia: Garden, Stakeholders Promoting Alternative Medical System

Gullele Botanic Garden said it has been gathering and supplying plants that are utilized in traditional medicine to promote alternative systems of medicine as health care services.

According to Professor Sebsebe Demissew, Gullele Botanic Garden Executive Director, the Garden is working to integrate alternative systems of medicine treatment by creating smooth relationship with traditional medicine practitioners with knowledge of plant species that are utilized for medical purposes.

The Garden has been exerting efforts to work with practitioners by conducting research to conserve endangered plant species and promote alternative treatment.

Gullele Botanic Garden has been collecting various plant species from all across the country. So far, it has collected more than 1000 plant species, of which some 146 are utilized for medical purposes, he added.

And to enhance and develop the useful aspects of traditional medicine, relevant researches and studies are ongoing to explore the possibilities of its gradual integration into modern medicine.

According to the Director, the Garden has given due emphasis to integrating traditional medicine with modern medical practices by engaging indigenous communities with knowledge of traditional medicine.

Birhanu Belay, Research Works Coordination Directorate Director at the Garden told The Ethiopian Herald that collaborating with traditional medical practitioners and collecting and protecting medical plant species have also economic advantages.

According to him, 80 percent of Ethiopian population uses traditional medicine due to the relatively lower cost, besides the cultural acceptance.

Hence, it is salient to modernize and integrate the widely used traditional medicine with scientific methods, he stressed.

"Prior to modern medicine and the development of health system, traditional healers have been giving various services, treatments and curative medicines for a long period of time," he said.

"Hence, the integration of traditional medicine healers and modern researchers will play an important role being input for one another in sharing knowledge, extraction of medical plants and determining the dosage."

The Garden has also given due emphasis to facilitate traditional medical practices' transfer of knowledge to the coming generation.

As to him, unlike in the past, the government has given due emphasis to working with traditional healers and the transfer of such knowledge to the next generation and research on the area.

However, currently, the number of established botanic gardens in Ethiopia is very few. That is why it is planned nationally that every city and higher learning institutions would develop its own botanic garden in the future, Birhanu indicated.

Mengistu Desta, Addis Ababa Traditional Medicines Healers' Association Secretariat on his part added that these days traditional medicine healers are getting legal protection and recognition from concerned parties. They have also been encouraged to develop their knowledge through scientific methods.

He also affirmed their readiness to work closely with modern medicine practitioners.

However, access to finance, plant species as well as lack of coordination among stakeholders and areas to develop plants and services are among the major challenges in modernizing traditional health care services, as to him.

Medical products certification and issues of trust, ownership and patent right are also other challenges that are hindering collaborative work, he added.

Some 80 traditional medical practitioners are legally licensed in the capital alone, The Ethiopian Herald learnt.


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