Traditional Medicine
A store that sells plants and herbs that are used in traditional medicine.

WHO to Africa: Apply Science, Technology to Advance Traditional Medicine  

The World Health Organiation (WHO) has called on Nigeria and other Africa member states to apply local knowledge, science, technology and innovation to unlock the contribution of traditional medicine to advancing planetary health and people’s well-being.

The global health body urged the region to scale up their efforts and implement evidence-based Traditional Medicine (TM) approaches to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and well-being for all at all ages.

WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Walter Mulombo, who made the call at the 2023 African Traditional Medicine Day yesterday in Abuja, stressed the need to facilitate effective integration of traditional medicine into national health systems contributing to achieving universal health coverage and all health-related sustainable development goals.

Mulombo said that Africa should develop monitoring systems and indicators for traditional medicine within national health information systems enabling the measurement and redirection of traditional medicine practices within countries.

He noted that African Traditional Medicine, deeply intertwined with indigenous herbalism and rooted in the tapestry of African spirituality and culture, stands as a beacon of accessibility, affordability, and trust for millions across our continent.

He observed that with approximately 80 per cent of the population seeking solace in traditional medicine for fundamental health needs, it remains an embodiment of our identity, resilience and heritage. Mulombo who revealed that 39 countries have developed legal frameworks for traditional health practitioners, stated that 25 countries in the WHO Africa Region have currently integrated traditional medicine into their health sciences curricula, while 20 have established training programs for traditional health practitioners and health sciences students, to strengthen human resources in both traditional medicine and primary health care.

He said, “We applaud the strides taken by Member States in nurturing the integration of traditional medicine within national health systems. From the development of evidence-based policies to regulatory frameworks that ensure quality and safety, from the cultivation of medicinal plants to collaborative training initiatives, our progress is tangible and commendable.

“While we celebrate these achievements, we remain mindful of the path ahead. The potential of traditional medicine, in terms of research, local manufacturing, and commercialization, remains untapped.”

Mulombo stressed the need to develop standards of the curriculum for continued training and education of traditional health practitioners to facilitate their integration into primary healthcare services and also accelerate the research, production, regulation and formal utilization of evidence based traditional and indigenous products in national health systems.