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27.01.2005 Health

Scientists should not quickly dismiss herbal medicine as impotent

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Kumasi, Jan. 27, GNA - A research scientist has advised scientists and medical practitioners not to dismiss outright claims by traditional healers that they had drugs that could cure chronic diseases or HIV/AIDS in particular.
Dr Archie Sittie, Deputy Director of the Mampong Centre for Research into Plant Medicine, said such dismissals could be made only after scientific tests and tests by members of the local communities prove that the herbal product was ineffective.
He gave the advice when he addressed the opening session of the 15th annual National Conference of the Ghana Chemical Society (GCS) in Kumasi on Thursday, on the theme, "Chemical Research and the Management of HIV/AIDS and malaria".
The Ghana AIDS Commission, the Department of Chemistry of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Ministry of Health, are jointly sponsoring the two-day conference.
Dr Sittie observed that herbal medicine had the potential for the cure of numerous ailments and for that matter efforts should be made to encourage traditional healers to promote herbal medicine rather than discouraging them by negative utterances on their products.
On malaria, he acknowledged that one-fifth of the numerous herbal products received by the Centre in 2003 and 2004 amply indicated that they could cure malaria, while the remaining contents catered for other sicknesses.
Professor Kwesi Andam, Vice Chancellor of the KNUST, pledged to explore avenues to provide the Department of Chemistry with the essential tools and instruments that could help impact more practical skills to students.
This way, he was hopeful, graduates would easily face up to the challenge of transforming the theoretical skills impacted to them into practical reality, especially in the area of helping develop herbal medicine.
The Vice Chancellor said to demonstrate KNUST's concern for seeking solutions to the AIDS pandemic, it had recently established an HIV/AIDS Study Centre to seek more information and work towards a solution to the pandemic.
Professor James Hawkins Ephraim, National President of the GCS, noted that even though science and technology was the key to salvaging the country from under-development, students who were zealous to do science were often faced with frustrations.
He suggested a form of incentives to encourage more students to take up the study of science in schools.

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