Ethiopia Fails to Exploit Rich Traditional Medicine - Public Health Institute

Continental standards agencies are pushing for regulated production of traditional medicine to promote quality.

Addis Ababa — Ethiopia is not benefiting from its rich traditional medicine despite the huge resources and endowments, according to Ethiopian Public Health Institute.

Traditional and Modern Medicine Research Acting Director at the institute (TMMRD), Ashenafi Tadele said there are 14,000 traditional medicine practitioners. Of these, only 40 are certified by Ministry of Health.

Realizing the potential of this sub-sector, TMMRD has been engaged in preparing standards for traditional medicine in cooperation with Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority (FMHACA). But adherence to these standards has not been adequately monitored or evaluated by the concerned regulatory bodies, the acting director added.

Ashenafi further blamed both the government and the practitioners for the shortcomings. "Shortage of adequate budget and lack of coordination among research centers are challenges. Moreover, the government has not given enough attention to the sector, while those engaged in providing traditional medical services are reluctant to work with our office as they remain suspicious of our scientific activities."

According to him, the government and stakeholders in the sector are at present working on a renewed policy framework to support the sector and a Roadmap for Traditional Medicines is in the making.

The research institute has also organized a national consultative forum and recommended the establishment of department for traditional medicine under the Ministry of Health.

Besides, TMMRD is working in close collaboration with the Association of Ethiopian Professionals of Traditional Medicine through which it provides capacity building to members of the association.

Chairman of the Association of Ethiopian Professionals of Traditional medicine, Hajji Sheik Ali Adem said the activities of the association are hampered by various challenges.

Our association does not have its own office and Ministry of Health is not giving us due attention and support by recognizing us as professionals. We have financial constraints and we need more training for our members.

The certified vendor in traditional medicine, Hamid Abella, claimed that the attention given to the sector by the government is very low.

Although the country is suitable for cultivating herbal medicine of all kinds, the government is not paying due attention to traditional medicine. The government expends billions of dollars for import of medicines; but we are not adequately utilizing our resources in traditional medicine. We could have exported traditional medicines and generated a lot of income for the country.

Ethiopia has reportedly 1,500 indigenous herbal medicines.

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