THE Minister of Health, Major (rtd) Courage Quashigah, has called for constant evaluation and regula-tion of traditional medicine practice in the country to make it reliable, credible and modernised.
He said this at the opening of a four-day forum for traditional medicine practitioners, convention health practi-tioners and research scientists in Accra.
The forum, which is under the auspices of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), a specialised agency of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), will among other things, attempt to develop the final draft which will harmonise policies, regulations and advocacy plans on traditional medicine development to standardise procedures and services to acceptable levels in the sub-region.
Major Quashigah said that with such policies in place, member countries will promote free trade in product and services.
He said traditional medicine continues to play a crucial role in health care in Africa, 'although this trend is often largely overlooked in healthcare planning'.
Major Quashigah said one of the reasons for lack of documentation of evidence in traditional African medicine is due to lack of interest in the profession and inadequate research methodology for clinical evaluation of herbal medicines.
He said the collaboration between herbalists, research and medical experts to finding a common platform to advance traditional medicine is laudable.
Dr Luis Sambo, World Health Organisation Regional Director, said the Alma-Ata Declaration which 30 years ago advocated healthcare for all asked countries to include traditional medicine in their primary health care systems and to recognise traditional health practitioners within these systems.
'As a result, the importance of traditional medicine has increased over the past 30 years to contribute significantly in helping populations of World Health Organisation (WHO), African Region, including WAHO member states,' he said.
Dr Sambo said studies in some countries of the African Region show that effective collaboration between conventional health practices and traditional health practices resulted in improved research, healthcare delivery, increased knowledge on sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.
'I encourage traditional health practitioners, conventional health practitioners and research scientists to be united for accelerating the process of institutionalising traditional medicines in health systems, advancing bio-medical research and for effective provision of healthcare in WHO African Region and in WAHO member states,' he said.
Dr Kofi Busia, professional officer in-charge of traditional medicine of WAHO, said any effective collaboration in the health sector requires mutual understanding and respect as well as consistent exchange of information on management of diseases.
'This meeting therefore, should offer us an opportunity to remind us on both sides that knowledge of both therapies is the passkey to medical provision in the 21st Century,' he said. He called for collaboration between orthodox health practitioners and tradition medicine practitioners since the health of the people transcends trivialities.