Traditional medicines the answer


DRUGS are now out of reach of many.
Failure to access the American US dollar in most instances is resulting in many patients being turned away from hospitals to their death beds.
In instances where payments can be made in other forms (RTGS or EcoCash), the prices are exorbitant.
Pharmaceutical companies have said they are not in a position to do away with US dollar payments at the moment and this will continue for a while.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care said they are in the process of restocking the country’s drugs and this will perhaps bring some kind of relief.
Those with relatives abroad are fortunate to ask their relatives to buy drugs and send back home while those with the financial muscle or are in positions of authority go abroad to access medical treatment.
While our traditional medicine systems can bridge this gap, myths and misconceptions about the use of such has seen many shunning this treatment.
For millions of people in rural areas of developing countries, herbal medicines, traditional treatments and traditional practitioners have always been the main, sometimes the only, source of healthcare.
In several North American and European countries, the production and sale of herbal medicines, dietary supplements and other so-called ‘natural’ products have become a huge and profitable industry, with the US alone netting over US$32 billion a year.
Professor Sheunesu Mpepereki of the University of Zimbabwe says the problem is colonial as it has resulted in many of our people being dependent on scientific medication.
“We lost it when we abandoned our own traditional medicines in preference to the Western-introduced medicine. It was part of the colonialisation agenda which was premised on our culture, religion and medicines to look up to the whites for any and all services in order to control us,” said Professor Mpepereki.
“The colonial agenda made people hate their own and disconnect from their own people, to look upon their own as primitive, backward and evil. When a people cannot rely upon themselves, they look upon their master.
“As a scientist, I know the chemistry is identical. God did not separate them because if you have a plant, whether it is planted in China or America, it will still have the same properties because science has no boundaries.
“Over time, Africans have amassed huge inventions of medicines, long before the white people were here, which have kept them alive. It is sad that the ignorance of our people has made them reject their own medicines.
“Bio-piracy has seen people acquiring knowledge from the traditional healers and herbalists, researching and creating patents, depriving the sole owner of the information of the financial resources. We are being charged forex for our own knowledge as the coloniser protects his multi-billion dollar business.
“We need to revitalise these systems and this is where our education system is failing us in that it should be teaching us to take pride in our own and not the other. Failure is not an option.”
Traditional healer Dr Joe Bike White, originally from Ghana, says there is need to conscientise people to appreciate the indigenous knowledge systems.
“There are medicines that the scientific world has not yet discovered, especially for cancer and HIV but can be found in the traditional medicines. People need to appreciate this because these medicines are given in the spirit and by the spirit mediums and they reject any laboratory testing. However, the law says traditional healers need to be registered and have their medicines tested.”
In her address some years ago, Dr Margaret Chan, then Director-General of the World Health Organization at the International Forum on Traditional Medicine in China, said the danger comes not from the practice of traditional medicine per se, but from the failure of so many developing countries to provide universal access to essential health services.
“Modern medicine and traditional medicine make unique contributions to health, but both also have their limits and shortcomings,” said Dr Chan.
“Countries, especially in the developing world, are wise to use the best of these two approaches in a carefully integrated and regulated way.
“Traditional medicine has much to offer, especially as a contribution to primary health care and universal coverage, and most especially at a time when chronic non-communicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the world’s biggest killer.
“This is care that is close to homes, accessible and affordable. In some systems of traditional medicine, such as traditional Chinese medicine and the Ayurveda system historically rooted in India, traditional practices are supported by wisdom and experience acquired over centuries.”
Dr Chan cited how traditional medicine is the answer in West Africa.
“In other cases, traditional medicine is the default option simply because Western medicine has nothing to offer. We witnessed this situation most vividly during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” Dr Chan said.
“For the thousands of people infected and their doctors, modern medicine had nothing to offer; no vaccines and no treatments beyond supportive care. Patients and their families understandably preferred care in homes or by traditional healers to isolation in treatment centres where few left alive.
“This form of care unquestionably soothes, treats many common ailments, reduces suffering and relieves pain. It also keeps people with minor complaints and illnesses from flooding clinics and emergency wards.
“However, these well-known advantages contribute to one of several criticisms of traditional medicine. The belief that traditional healers are the first and best line of defence against illness and disease can lead to potentially life-threatening medical emergencies, especially when this belief blocks or delays access to mainstream medicine.”
Dr Axe-Food is medicine website says using healing herbs and spices helps people thrive and focus on their overall conditions, rather than on a particular ailment that typically arises from a lack of equilibrium of the mind, body and environment.
Not only will these herbs and spices boost your health protection, but these seasonings will also boost the flavour profile and make your food taste better.
Herbs and spices such as basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, chamomile, chives, coriander, cumin seed, devil’s claw, fennel, ginseng, ginger root, hyssop, lemon grass, mint, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, garlic, rose, sage, thyme and turmeric can help treat a number of health conditions.
As scientific medication is now out of the reach of many, it is high time, as a nation, we embrace our indigenous knowledge systems.


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