By JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, gave its nod to the establishment of College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the country, as a bill to that effect scaled second reading.
The college is aimed at carrying out clinical work and research as well as providing an alternative method of treating ailments.
It will also train and retrain alternative medicine practitioners in the health care delivery services.
The bill, being sponsored by Senator Clever Ikisipo, PDP, Bayelsa East, proposes a take off grant of N3.9 billon that will cover consultancy, capital costs, personnel emoluments, and cost of specialised training for staff, among others.
In his lead debate at the Senate plenary yesterday, Senator Ikisipo said the bill was aimed at providing constitutional backing for the Federal College of Comple-mentary and Alternative Medicine, created as an agency under the Federal Ministry of Health in 2007.
He canvassed the support of his colleagues in giving legislative backing for the passage of the bill, saying if the college was established, it would ultimately complement Federal Government’s efforts at encouraging alternative medicine practice which, he noted, had already been supported by medical practitioners in European, Asian and other African countries.
He said: “Complementary and Alternative Medicine is the branch of medicine whose philosophy is grounded in the enhancement of the body’s own healing power through the use of natural means.
“This branch of medicine is coming to the forefront of health care in most Asian countries, African countries, European countries and America, thus having the effect of a healthier and stronger society and enhancing our very valuable human resources.”
He said the college had done tremendously well in research into various remedies that can cure major diseases like cancer, cholera, vesicovaginal fistula, VVF, as well as advanced management and cure of HIV/AIDS since its establishment in 2007.
He regretted that the college had been producing remedies for ailments over the years without the proper legislative framework required for its development and sustenance.
He said: “At present, the college is the first of its kind in Africa teaching osteopathy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Natural Medicine and other related disciplines in one single institution.”
Increase in life expectancy
He expressed optimism that the college was capable of increasing life expectancy in Nigeria from 45 to 75 years based on the quality and effective health care services it was capable of providing.
He said the legislative support will enable the college to give a proper structure to the required formal training ground for the important medical input.
Almost all the senators that spoke on the issue said the bill was timely but feared that the development could be abused by the extreme traditional medicine practitioners in the country.
In his remark, Senate President, David Mark, warned against what he described as allowing alternative medicine practice go beyond using herbs.
He said: “We should be careful. This is because most of the native doctors do incantations and people say they get well. Would you take that as one of the things the College would encourage?
“There are areas where we just need to exercise a bit of caution. Sometimes, when you are sick in the village they do not give you anything to drink.
“They just give you something to tie on your waist or to carry in your pocket and then it is assumed that you would recover.
“We should try and be careful so that we don’t go beyond the limit. Also I know that for those who come from the South East, in particular in Anambra State or Onitsha, you know they sell medicine there that they say is the killer of 77 diseases.
“Just one small bottle and they market it very well and people buy and it is in hot demand. I think that is the kind of thing the College should look at.
“Establishing the College is not the problem, it is what would be taught in the College and the limit of what would be regarded as the subjects to be taught in the College that I think that we need to look at.
“Maybe after this we would get another agency that would try and regulate the subject and what will be taught in the College. I think we should all support this Bill,” he said.