What can Herbal or Traditional medicine treat? (6)

9 July, 2019

The debate about herbal medicine and modern medicine always generates a lot of contributions. And so it should because in most of LMICs it can mean staying alive or lead to preventable death, if there is confusion. On HIFA we owe the readers (and other members) a duty to only mention evidence supported contributions.

Often confusion about these the two choices (modern medicine or herbal practice) leads to disaster, because patients present late, often very late for proper diagnosis to be made, resuscitation and treatment whilst patients are going from one type of practitioner to the other including religious houses and outright quacks, only to finally appear in a modern medical facility manned by skilled personnel, when they are in extremis. Even if they are saved they suffer great avoidable morbidity at great economic and psychological cost.

But I will urge members to read my posting to the debate in response to Owolabi’s first posting [http://www.hifa.org/dgroups-rss/what-can-herbal-or-traditional-medicine-.... I was careful in choice of words because I know that there was herbal medicine in Africa at least before the coming of modern medicine. Therefore I did not and have never in previous debates of this same topic debated 'either herbal medicine or modern medicine’.

I have said that whilst herbal medicine may have a role in treating health conditions, it needs to as a matter of priority raise its game: standardize the products, disaggregate the cocktail into its discrete contents do that it can better know the benefits and adverse effects of each content, so that it can better determine dosages, contra indications, etc etc. This is the difference between it and modern medicines, a point that I think is simply a no-brainer.

Some of us have been in the front of the advocacy in Nigeria, for instance, calling on the government to support efforts required to bring herbal medicine into the 21st century practice. If that happens both modern medicine and the herbalists will benefit, just as the patients too.

My posting focused on two points: 1) it is not fact to say that herbal medicine practice is holistic and modern medicine is not. 2) it is not fact to say that herbal medical practitioners undergo the same training as medical practitioners or other health practitioners.

And infact I only asked for evidence, if there is / are any, to buttress the two statements made by Owolabi.

As for what HIFA is about: its about ‘help create a world where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare knowledge’. If they receive the wrong knowledge they may die because it’s as bad, if even worse that no knowledge at all, to give them knowledge that is not backed by evidence of what works!!!

Joseph Ana

HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007. Website: www.hriwestafrica.com Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group and the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers.



Email: jneana AT yahoo.co.uk