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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Traditional African medicine boosted

6th November 2006

21072006_darfur1.jpgTraditional medicine should be institutionalised as part of a drive to improve African hospitals, African health officials agreed recently.

In recognition of the important role that traditional medicine (TM) plays in the region, delegates to a World Health Organisation (WHO) conference called for joint research on TM used for priority diseases in Africa.

Representatives from 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and two international health agencies attended the meeting held in Brassaville, Congo.

They agreed that governments should institutionalise TM into their national health systems and develop a legal framework, national policy and code of ethics for its practice, which they said is vital to improve the performance and management of hospitals in Africa.

They also agreed to develop mechanisms for protecting TM knowledge and intellectual property rights.

In Zambia, efforts led by the government, the WHO and the Traditional Health Practitioners Association of Zambia are already being made to integrate TM into the country's health system.

Loyce Lishimpi, a WHO officer for essential medicines, said Zambia was offering technical support at various levels to achieve this.

She said preliminary work leading to integration was continuing, for example, the inclusion of a clause about the control of herbal medicines in the country┬┤s Pharmaceutical Act of 2004.

Since then work has begun towards developing a Traditional Health Practitioners Bill, a code of ethics for practitioners and a national drug policy plan, which will cover TM research and development.

The five-day meeting was attended by delegates from Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia.

Representatives from the French Cooperation Agency and the Network of Hospitals in Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean were also present.

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