Traditional Medicine, the Way Forward for Africa!

Okyere Bonna, MBA
Co-author, Traditional Medicine in Ghana.

 

From Hunger to Harvest, Inc, has diligently served our African communities over three decades. On this occasion, we congratulate the president and executives for the many humanitarian programs they provide in rural and urban communities worldwide! Among the key goals of From Hunger to Harvest, Inc, are, education, promotion of health and economic emancipation, especially of victims of civil conflicts, and also promoting the Traditional African Medicine (ATM) to be recognized in each African country.

 

There has never been the urgency to place more value on African traditional medicine than today. With the evolution of COVID 19 when modern or orthodox medicine has failed or is handicapped, the relevance and importance of herbs and plant medicine cannot be underrated. When the cure for AIDS, and Ebola, for example, were non-existent, Africans were being treated and made well by traditional healers and herbalists. African traditional medicine (ATM) continues to play a significant role in reducing life-threatening ailments of humanity in African communities.

 

ATM includes organic foods, plants and herbs. Indigenous health knowledge has proven to be very powerful and reliable. People  continue to consult traditional healers for various illnesses or diseases and hundreds of these have been documented. ATM has (been) proved to be efficacious in various instances. For the purposes of time and space, I will only cite three examples of plants found in the rain forests of west Africa commonly used by Traditional native healers: Cola, Odum and Nim trees. These are miracle plants, with numerous medicinal benefits. The practice of African traditional medicine dates back long before the scramble for Africa.

 

African traditional medicine (ATM) has suffered negatively to the point of death or neglect under Colonialism. Many terms such as primitive, animism, fetishism, polytheism, ancestral worship, totemism, vodooism and naturism, have been used to describe the religious activities of the indigenous African, discouraging the practice and usage of herbal medicine. Even though none of these descriptions matches the practice of African traditional medicine or African traditional religion. Interestingly, today, the world is craving for organic foods and complimentary medicine;- a gift that Nature has endowed Africa.

 

World Health Organization, (WHO) defines a traditional healer as someone competent to provide health care by using plant, animal and mineral substances and other methods based on social, cultural and religious practices. Four main categories of traditional healers are identified in Africa: 1) traditional birth attendants (TBA); 2) faith healers; 3) spiritualists (Diviners or Fetish Priest); and 4) traditional herbalists. It is therefore unconceivable to generalize ATM as witchcraft or voodoo.

 

African traditional medicine is based on knowledge of medicinal plants

enriched over numerous generations by experimentation and observation of animal behavior. Herbal remedies are commonly used to treat diseases/illness in Africa. African traditional practitioners claim they have not only cured many ailments, but they believe they can intervene in  the areas where orthodox medicine is weak or has not succeeded.

 

The concept of health is a community affair in African traditional societies, where the community is made up of both the living and the dead. Nearly every member of an ethnic group in Africa tries to be positively involved with the activities of the community so that the gods may not be displeased or offended.

 

From Hunger To Harvest, Inc. (FHTH), is promoting the Traditional African Medicine (ATM) to  be recognized as a component of the health care delivery system in each African country; Africa must codify, document, and institutionalize her therapeutic systems. Traditional healers and practitioners must be made to obtain licenses before practice. Courses in ATM should be taught in the colleges and universities, and further research must be conducted on Africa’s God-giving natural medicinal resource. As the dominant health care system available to millions of Africans, ATM, is not without some challenges. Notwithstanding, where there is a will, there is away.

 

Who Is Okyere?
Okyere Bonna, MBA
Co-author, Traditional Medicine in Ghana.
www.okyerebonna.com

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