Herbs have been with the African society from the very onset of life, but the effect of colonialism on the continent has turned away the minds of the people from the usefulness of herbal medicines. Most Africans believe that the best products come from the developed countries – the Western and European.
In Ghana a lot of broad-minded people have gone a long way in the preservation of African traditions, especially herbal medicines, throughout the years, and today a lot more interest is being generated in herbal medicines and their values, together with the fact that they come cheaper than the orthodox medicines.
Herbal medicines in Ghana
Herbal medicine has become one of the commonest businesses in the Ghanaian market, though many of those who deal in it do not like being called herbalists, yet have great knowledge in the world of herbs.
Looking at herbal business in our markets, one might think that it is just another way of earning some income in this era of high unemployment, and one would tend to ignore them but it is not so.
Though it is a fact that most of them have not had any formal education, they can give quite credible explanations as to how and where they got their herbal knowledge. Some claim to have gotten their knowledge from a great-grandfather/grandfather/father, others through inheritance, as a gift or from a friend.
Majority of these sellers do not have the approval of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) or the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), but only claim to have received a license for selling herbal medicine. It is true that some of them have gone a long way in proving their competence, by trying to improve upon the quality of their medicines, but others also find it very hard to do so.
The ordinary Ghanaian believes in the efficacy of herbal medicines, especially the rural dwellers, who live lots of kilometres away from the nearest healthcare centre, however the way and manner these sellers portray their medicines is one of the problems they face during marketing.
It has become a normal phenomenon to see about three herbal medicines sellers lined up before a bus loading passengers. The surprising thing about their medicines is that they claim each medicine can cure three or more diseases at a go, which people find very difficult to believe.
According to Prince Owusu, a driver, whenever these sellers start talking about their medicines and do not get any response from the passengers, they begin to mention numerous illnesses and diseases and eventually gain the attention of the passengers.
If that does not work, they make a drastic reduction in the prices and eventually make some sales.
Opinion of herbal medicine users
According to one Madam Agnes Fosuwa, a seamstress, she usually patronises these medicines, but she has begun to have doubts about their proposed efficacy, since the last time she bought some.
According to her, she bought herbal medicine in a vehicle, which was meant to cure waist pains, but to her dismay she developed a severe headache and diarrhoea. The disheartening aspect was that, the waist pain was not cured either.
For Diana Nantwi, who hails from Kumasi, she was down with severe stroke for over one year, her legs and hands were stiff and tense making it difficult to move, while her lower lips also dropped, and she suffered severe waste pains.
She just could not stand upright and could only walk with the aid of a stick. She sought for treatment from many health centres, but nothing seemed to work. She then heard of a herbal clinic - Champion Divine Clinic. She went there to seek help and after taking the medication for less than one month, she felt completely cured.
There are a lot of trusted herbal medicines and clinics in Ghana, some which have the approval of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) and the Food and Drugs Board (FDB). Some these trusted ones include the Champion Divine Clinic, with the brain behind it being one Dr. K. Frimpong.
According to him, his wife was having difficulty in conceiving a child, which made him develop an interest in herbal medicines. This resulted in his pursuing a course in herbal medicine at a university in Pakistan. So far, his knowledge in herbs has made him a living testimony, as he has been able to solve his issue of childlessness.
The clinic, which was established in 2001, is aiming to be the most preferred health facility in the world. It is well equipped with the state of the art health facilities, modern multi-purpose diagnostic machines, laboratory equipment and many others. The clinic specialises in infertility and other diseases. More importantly, it uses herbal medicines, which have virtually no negative side effects.
It can boast of well-trained and experienced health professionals who take care of the problems of the patients. The uniqueness of the clinic has resulted in it obtaining awards like the Most Patronized Herbal Centre in West Africa for the year 2007; Dr Kwame Nkrumah African Leadership Award 2007; Noble International Awards also in 2007, as well as Best Alternative Herbal Medicine in 2008.
Though it started operating six years ago, it has gone a long way in helping the sick in the communities. The clinic has branches in Kumasi, and that has plans of opening a branch in Takoradi as well.
In order to help people who are interested in getting abreast with herbal medicine, the clinic has decided to open a herbal medicine school, to train people. The interesting thing about the clinic is that it has given employment to many, in Accra and Kumasi.
Their mission is to provide guaranteed quality healthcare at the most affordable price. For their objective, they intend to promote the use of herbal medicines, treat patients with the most effective medicines with no side effects, undertake public health awareness programmes, as well as promote the treatment of diseases without surgical operation. They are experts in the treatment of diseases like infertility in men and women, asthma, heart failure or attack, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, typhoid, cancer and many others.
The rate, at which the clinic is helping and coming out with important medicines, aroused the curiosity of the British Fact Finding Team to assess some of the medical facilities they use.
The West Africa Magazine as well, became curious so decided investigating it. According to him all packaging of his medicines is done in Pakistan, and it passes through thorough a hygienic service, to make sure there are no traces of unhygienic elements.
Looking at how far this clinic has been, society would benefit if they give herbal medicines a chance, by trusting and using it. The achievement of this clinic is one thing that many herbal medicine sellers hope to attain, but the problem is the capital to start with. These sellers always cry to government to give them a helping hand to explore their God-given talent for the benefit of society, however in as much as government can help, the society can as well give a helping hand.
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