Dear Mr President,
I write to inform you on the need to focus on the herbal medicine industry in your quest to tackle unemployment especially among graduates in Ghana. Let me first of all congratulate you on your election and inauguration as the 5th president of the 4th republic of Ghana. I came across a portion in the NPP’s manifesto under the “HEALTH” segment which with declaration to integrate Traditional medicine into the health delivery system in Ghana. Herbal medicine remains the only component of Traditional medicine that can be successfully integrated into the healthcare system as its practice is explicable with science just like other health disciplines.
Previous governments have contributed to the development of herbal medicine in their own capacities but these efforts have only gave the controlling powers of the herbal industry to indigenous herbal practitioners known as Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMP’s) at the expense of professionally trained counterparts from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), College of Integrated Medicine, and other private herbal schools. There are limited opportunities for graduates in an industry controlled by indigenous practitioners. The problem at hand requires mainly policy and legal intervention to ensure that the needed systems are created within the herbal medicine industry to provide employment for not only professionally trained herbal medicine practitioners, but also for other graduates.
POLICY ON TRADITIONAL MEDICINE DEVELOPMENT IN GHANA, a single document that puts together previous and present government’s policies regarding traditional medicine practice prior to the commencement of formal herbal medicine training in 2001, is the only available policy document that directs the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Directorate (TAMDI) on what to do with the herbal medicine practice. Most provisions in the document except integration have been implemented. The reason is simple; TMP’s do not have medical training, and all healthcare practitioners require a common medical foundation/training to enable them work together as one unit in provision of quality care. Piloting of the services of Medical Herbalists in selected government hospitals have been in existence since 2012 but no efforts have been made to achieve full integration. An ideal herbal clinic as a department within a hospital should possess an Out-patient-department, consulting rooms, records unit, and dispensary. Medical Herbalists are the doctors in charge of the consulting room by virtue of their formal training, other sections of the clinic will be run by nurses, dispensing technicians, and record keepers thus creating several employment opportunities for graduates. Well supervised private herbal clinics or hospitals should also employ the mentioned staff and in addition, accountants, physiotherapists, lab scientists, sonographers, IT personnel, store keepers, among others but that is currently not the case.
The reformed policy document should also lay emphasis on the inclusion of basic herbal medicine training in the syllabus of other health professionals for them to get the scientific basis on the nature of herbal medicines and how they work to clear all the misconceptions that has since prevented the acceptance and recommendation of herbal medicine services by. Medical Herbalists and other professionals already have basic knowledge in Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences as part of their training and as such are well positioned to work with the already mentioned health professionals.
An amendment should be made to the already available Traditional Medicine Practice Act 2000 (ACT 575) to hand over the controlling power of herbal medicine practice to the professionals and its body, the Ghana Association of Medical Herbalists (GAMH). The ACT 575 led to the creation of the only available regulatory council known as Traditional Medicine Practice Council (TMPC) in 2010. TMPC with board membership for 5 indigenous practitioners and none for Medical Herbalists currently regulates the activities of both professional and indigenous herbal medicine practitioners; as such there has been a loop hole with the practice therefore lots of charlatans are currently in the system with practice licenses from the council.
Herbal medicine graduates should by law tasked with supervision of all herbal manufacturing centres, clinics and hospitals. A well supervised herbal manufacturing unit/factory should employ quality control personnel (graduates with science background), production manager, supply chain /procurement officers, accountants, production staff, engineers (electrical, mechanical, etc), ware house supervisors, store room keepers, cultivators of medicinal plants, herbal reps, etc. Every herbal centre should have medicinal farms to ensure continuous availability of consistent high quality efficacious herbal medicines and comparable responses from the same dose administered at any given time. Medicinal plants cultivation/medicinal farms will create jobs for graduates in the field of agriculture and botany.
BENTIL, Emmanuel Asare Adusei
BSC Herbal Medicine, KNUST