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08.02.2009 Health

Medicinal plants are becoming extinct - FORIG

By GNA


The Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) has expressed its worry over the high rate at which medicinal plants in the country were becoming extinct.

This development, according to the Institute, could have a multiplying negative effect on the nation's bid to achieve a
breakthrough in the development of the health sector and traditional
plant medicine, if serious measures were not adopted to improve the situation.

Dr. Ebenezer Owusu-Sekyere, a Senior Research Scientist at the FORIG, said majority of Africans depended on traditional medicine for their health care and that currently, the African continent has about 2,500 plants with medicinal purposes and properties.

He was speaking at a day's project workshop to brainstorm on the conservation and the utilization of medicinal plants in Ghana at Fumesua near Kumasi at the weekend.

The project is being executed under the auspices of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and being sponsored by Switzerland, Japan and the United States of America (USA).

Dr. Owusu-Sekyere said, the project would be implemented in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Western, Central and Eastern Regions and that
the FORIG had identified fifteen communities within these regions in
which the project would be effective.

He said the project looks at the critical importance of medicinal plants in poor communities where relatively cheap western medicines
remain prohibitively expensive and also to document the distribution,
utilization and practice conservation methods for sustainable supply of medicinal plants from three different ecological zones in Ghana.

He was not happy that habitat destruction and overexploitation had
resulted in he situation where sources of medicinal were becoming
increasingly scarce, stressing that the time has come for takeholders to support the ITTO project to help reclaim the lost medicinal plants.

Dr. Owusu-Sekyere noted that among some of the activities to be undertaken during the project are, ranking of priority medicinal
plants species for each of the beneficiary communities, distribution of rare seedlings for planting and collection and raising of planting
materials for the preferred but difficult to propagate medicinal plant species.

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