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Costly, modern health services are out of reach of most people in the Republic of Congo, so many rural dwellers consult traditional healers and use medicinal plants for health problems.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2003, 80 per cent of Africans were using traditional medicine for their primary healthcare.

The government of the Republic of Congo is planning to tap into this vast resource by implementing a public health strategy in which traditional cures complement Western medicine, according to this article by IRIN News.

Plans are underway to improve research into traditional medicine with the support of the WHO, which has a regional strategy to promote collaboration between traditional and conventional medicine practitioners.

But obstacles include the reputation of traditional medicine as a practice of 'quacks' who use dubious concoctions as remedies, and a lack of knowledge about basics, such as proper storage methods for plants.

Commentators say that with proper legislation and clear criteria to determine the efficacy of traditional medicines, as well as the people who sell them, the Congolese will gain affordable treatments.

Link to full article in IRIN

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