A World Health Organisation official has urged traditional medicine practitioners in Africa to register their products to gain more benefits — including international trade — from their use. Speaking on Monday (16 August) at the first scientific meeting of the Western Africa Network of Natural Products Research Scientists, which focused on malaria and HIV/AIDS, Charles Wambebe said that only 22 of 46 African countries have policies or laws covering traditional medicine.
Wambebe said traditional medicine was the most accessible form of treatment for most Africans, and underlined the need for more complementary use of traditional and modern medicine practices to meet the health needs of the majority. He also stressed the importance of research and conservation of medicinal plants to ensure their sustainable use.
Speaking at the same meeting, Marian Ewurama Addy, the network's executive secretary, said she was concerned that local pharmacists prefer to import foreign drugs rather than prepare traditional treatments. She said medicinal plants would be used more effectively and rationally and would have greater value if more were known about their scientific basis.