The Federal Government on Thursday said 80 per cent of Nigerians use traditional medicine as a primary form of health care.
The Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Tunji Alausa, disclosed this in Abuja at the commemoration of the 2023 African Traditional Medicine Day, with the theme ‘The Contribution of Traditional Medicine to Holistic Health and Well-being for All.’
Alausa, who was represented by the Director of Director of Human Resources Management at the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Hassan Salau, said traditional medicine was accessible, culturally acceptable, and trusted by a large number of people.
He said, “It is on record that Nigeria has been observing the ATM Day for the past two decades with activities for awareness creation and promotion of appropriate use and practice of traditional medicine in the country. With about 80 per cent of the rural population using traditional medicine as a primary form of health care, traditional medicine has made an invaluable contribution to the health and well-being for all.
“This year’s theme encapsulates the essence of our commitment to recognizing and harnessing the rich heritage of African traditional medicine. Today, as we celebrate, we must acknowledge the role of traditional medicine in our lives and its connection to our holistic health and well-being.
“Studies have shown that traditional medicine use in Nigeria is as high as 81.6 per cent, and this is not expected to be on the decline in the near future, especially in the face of the predicted increase in the global burden of diseases.”
Alausa noted that the agenda of President Bola Tinubu will bolster the economy by prioritising Universal Health Coverage which will address the nation’s healthcare challenges.
“The healthcare plan will also focus on encouraging and improving funding for local research of new drugs and vaccines. It is a well-established fact that many medicines have their origin from herbal medicine which is a form of traditional medicine.
“Our approach to optimising the strengths of our traditional medicine will also focus on favourable policies, institutional and political support, our rich biodiversity, qualitative data, scientific research, and the use of innovation to optimise the contribution of traditional medicine to UHC and sustainable development, and will also be guided by respect for our indigenous resources and intellectual property rights,” he added.
He said if the bill for the establishment of the Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Council of Nigeria was passed, it would regulate the affairs of the council in the country.
In her message, the World Health Organisation Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said the potential of traditional medicine, in terms of research, local manufacturing, and commercialisation, remains untapped.
Her message which was read by the WHO Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo, noted that member states have to scale up efforts to implement evidence-based traditional medicine approaches to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals and promote health and well-being for all at all ages.
She urged 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.
“Establish a 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.
“Facilitate effective integration of traditional medicine into national health systems contributing to achieving universal health coverage and all health-related sustainable development goals.
“Where appropriate, Member States should redefine laws, policies, and health services to enable holistic and relevant decisions, seamless choices with a transformative focus on prevention, maintenance, and primary healthcare,” she added.
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