By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), says up to 81.6% of Nigeria’s population still patronize traditional medicines.
As such, the Federal Government has promised to focus on encouraging and improving funding for local research on new drugs and vaccines.
The Minister of State for Health and Social Development, Dr. Tunji Alausa, who made this at the 2023 African Traditional Medicine Day Celebration in Abuja, assured that government will mobilise evidence-based actions in support of traditional medicine, which still serves as an initial recourse for millions worldwide seeking to address their health needs.
The Minister of State, represented by the Director of Human Resources, Malam Hassan Salau, stressef that government will continue to work with support from WHO, West African Health Organization (WAHO), and other partners including the Embassies of China and India to develop Nigeria’s Traditional Medicine for export and local use.
According to him, in spite of the strengths of traditional medicine, there is need to strive to address the challenges that persist in the practice, adding that integration and collaboration between modern medical practises and traditional medicine are essential.
In his speech, World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Walter Mulombo, said that African Traditional Medicine is celebrated on the 31st of August every year in recognition of the enduring significance of African Traditional Medicine and its integral role in enhancing health and well-being across the African continent.
“The global summit catalysed political commitment and evidence-based action on traditional medicine, which is the first port of call for millions of people worldwide to address their health needs.”
Dr Mulombo also disclosed that throughout these years, United Nations member states have witnessed the flourishing of African Traditional Medicine Day as a dynamic platform for dialogue, exchange, and knowledge sharing.
“It has united stakeholders—from traditional medicine practitioners to policymakers, from researchers to international partners—in a common pursuit of best practices, groundbreaking evidence, and innovative solutions that showcase the immense potential of traditional medicine in nurturing holistic health and well-being for all.
He called on Member States to scale up their efforts to further implement evidence-based Traditional Medicine approaches so as to achieve health-related Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and well-being for all at all ages.
The WHO Country Representative advised member states to establish high-level consultative mechanism with Indigenous Knowledge Holders to guarantee their full participation and consultation in adopting and implementing relevant policies and actions associated with biodiversity management and Traditional Knowledge.
According to Dr. Mulombo, member states should redefine laws, policies, and health services where appropriate to enable holistic and relevant decisions and seamless choices with a transformative focus on prevention, maintenance, and primary healthcare.
The theme for this year’s celebration of the day is: “The Contribution of Traditional Medicine to Holistic Health and Well-being for All.”