The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on governments, research institutions, practitioners and the private sector to strengthen collaboration around traditional medicine research and production.
The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, made the call in a statement to mark the 2021 World Traditional Medicine day.
She, however, called for more investment in research in order to develop the traditional medicine sector in Africa.
Moeti noted that COVID-19 pandemic has improved awareness of the value of traditional medicine.
According to her: “Investing more in research and development will contribute to harnessing homegrown solutions to improve well-being on the continent, and in other parts of the world.
“Natural remedies are burgeoning in popularity in western countries and have a long history in China, India and other places.
“Major pharmaceutical companies are also looking to Africa for new active ingredients.
“With the right partnerships and investments, tried-and-tested African traditional medicines could find a broad global market.”
Moeti, however, noted that as part of the COVID-19 response, promising traditional medicine therapies are emerging.
“In Cameroon for example, the Ministry of Health has approved two products as complementary therapies for COVID-19. Madagascar’s herbal remedy, COVID-Organics Plus Curative, is in phase III trials and encouraging preliminary results have been reported.
“We look forward to the final results of this trial, and of trials underway for different products in 12 other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa.
“With the support of national and district authorities, traditional health practitioners are also leading the charge in building buy-in for COVID-19 prevention measures and referring patients for timely care.
“This is contributing to strengthening and building confidence in health systems throughout Africa,” she said.
She, however, stressed that the WHO and other multilateral organizations are playing key roles in supporting capacity development in the traditional medicine sector, including the development of local manufacturing.
The WHO Chief advocated for more efforts to integrate traditional medicine into orthodox health systems and to strengthen partnerships and mobilize resources, particularly for research and development.