Mr Alex Segbefia, the Minister of Health, has suggested the establishment of a special institute for scientific research into the esoteric aspect of traditional and complementary medicines.
He said it was equally important for traditional rulers and political authorities to dialogue with the keepers of shrines and cults to reveal at least some of the ancient esoteric and all of the exoteric knowledge base of their practices.
Mr Segbefia said this at the end of the 13th African Traditional Medicine Day and the celebration of the 16th Traditional Medicine Week of Ghana in Cape Coast.
The week-long celebration, on the theme: “Regulating Traditional Health Practitioners in the African Region,” was attended by more than 500 traditional medicine practitioners nationwide.
The Minister said it was imperative to put in place specific framework and modalities as soon as practicable for the protection of intellectual property rights of traditional medicine practitioners.
Mr Segbefia said it was time basic information on traditional and the other healthcare systems were introduced into the curriculum of the medical schools, the school of public health and the training institutions for other allied health professions.
He said over the years, the collaboration gap between conventional and traditional practitioners had been narrowing and countries across the region had expressed their commitment to integrate those practitioners into the mainstream healthcare delivery system.
Mr Segbefia said Ghana had a well-structured system for the delivery of traditional medical health practice to the public, adding that in 1991, the Ministry of Health set up a traditional medicine directorate to provide policy direction for the implementation of traditional medicine in the country.
Mr Aquinas Tawiah Quansah, the Central Regional Minister, said the important role of traditional medicine and practice to the public could not be over-emphasised.
He said it was believed that there were more traditional healers than trained medical practitioners in Africa, and that their holistic health care that combined spiritual belief and herbalism to treat patients was highly recognised.
Mr Quansah, however, said despite the important role traditional health practitioners played in health delivery, the proliferation of quack ones was a major source of worry to everyone.
“It is common to see all sorts of people peddling traditional medicine/concoctions, which they say can treat all kinds of diseases without certification by the Food and Drugs Authority and other relevant institutions.”
The Minister in this regard, called on the Traditional Healers Association to co-operate with the Food and Drugs Authority to weed out the fake ones.
Mr Kojo Odum Eduful, President of Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (TMPC), said in collaboration with the Traditional Medicine Practice Council, the association had trained a 22-member taskforce to assist the enforcement unit to discharge its duty of eliminating quacks.
He said the association was in the process of finalising an agreement with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to commence training for certificate and diploma courses in herbal medicine for indigenous practitioners to acquire scientific knowledge.
Mr Eduful also appealed for the promulgation of a legislative Instrument to facilitate the full operationalisation and enforcement of the provisions in the TMPC Act 575, 2000.
He said the absence of an LI had perpetuated an environment that was not only undermining the optimal growth and development of traditional medicine, but was impeding its integration into the national healthcare delivery system.