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24.01.2006 Health

Ghana to host HIV/AIDS and Traditional Medicine Conference

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 24, GNA - Ghana would host a Global Summit on HIV/AIDS, Traditional Medicine and Indigenous Knowledge to facilitate the identification and testing of potentially beneficial low-cost naturally derived medicinal products for the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS.

The conference would facilitate mutual awareness, respect and training in diagnostic and therapeutic best practices, share indigenous knowledge of plants of medicinal value for the future and the production of herbal products.

It would also encourage the Government to adopt and enforce laws that would protect and conserve plants of medicinal value and protect the rights of indigenous practitioners.

The conference, slated for March 14 to March 18 2006 in Accra, would be organised by Africa First, a nongovernmental organisation (NGO) based in the United States in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the World Health Organisation, Ghana AIDS Commission, UNAIDS, Nogouchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research and the Ghana Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association.

Briefing the press on the conference, Professor Patrick Twumasi, Chairman of the Local Steering Committee for the conference, who read a speech on behalf of the President of First Africa, Mr William Danquah, said traditional medicine should be given importance in the contemporary educational system so that "it is not lost or stripped of its socio-cultural values".

He said despite billions of dollars of investment in research, "we see limitations of medicine. The developing world is beginning to give serious consideration to the use of traditional medicines or alternative and complementary therapies".

Prof. Twumasi said systems of reciprocity must also be generated among knowledge providers and resource users, particularly those with commercial goals through the medium of intellectual property regimes to secure and promote the interest and education for the future generations.

Professor Sakyi Awuku Amoa, Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission, said the bone of contention had always been the fear of practitioners having their knowledge being stolen by research scientists and said it would be in their own interest to work with the research institutions and not individual research scientists.

"If you do not tell us how the preparation was done it will be difficult for us to accept your proof that your preparation was safe for humans and that we should approve."

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