The Federal Government has said that it was proposing setting up of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), clinics to make their services available to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), and the general public.
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Sen. Olororunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State, Health, disclosed this at a two-day CAM Stakeholders Forum, in Abuja, organised by the African Traditional Medicine Department of the Ministry of Health(FMOH).
The forum theme is “Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Health Care”.
Mamora said that the proposal was part of initiatives by the Ministry of Health to promote CAM in the country.
The minister disclosed that FMOH would be collaborating with India and China to set up CAM Hospitals in the Federal Capital Territory.
According to him, the collaboration with West African Health Organization and ECOWAS in providing technical support for training Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMPs), and scientific sessions between Orthodox practitioners and TMPs hads become necessary.
He said that FMOH was also working assiduously to ensure the passage of TCAM bill.
“We commend the genuine efforts of some private and corporate organisations that are determined to develop and promote CAM in the country by establishing health care facilities.
“There are several other corporate and private establishments that are involved in the development of CAM in Nigeria, hence the need for harmonisation of activities so as to develop the sector faster and avoid duplication of efforts.
“The ultimate goal of government intervention in this multi-disciplinary sector is to derive maximum health, economic and social development benefits from CAM as currently being enjoyed by some other countries like China, India, Japan, United Kingdom, USA, Thailand,” he said.
Mamora, however, said that government was also faced with challenges in the area of CAM practice in Nigeria one of which was the non-availability of government training institutions for these field of practice.
“This has led to a proliferation of unregistered Institutions churning out quacks in the name of CAM practitioners with titles they don’t qualify for.
“Though there are some highly skilled and qualified CAM practitioners in the country, government is yet to have a scheme of service for these cadre of professionals, but we are currently working on this at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation,” he said.
According to him, the determination to address these issues is the main reason for organising a forum where experts in the field of CAM will discuss on issues that will foster the development, regulation and check proliferation of training schools not recognized by FMOH.
The minister said that the theme of maiden stakeholder’s forum which was “Complementary and Alternative Medicines in Health Care”, was very appropriate as there seems to be a lot of confusion and misconceptions about what constitutee CAM and the scope of the practices.
“The theme is a wake-up call to healthcare professionals to embrace CAM and improve on it for the benefit of Nigerians and our journey to attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“The carefully chosen sub-themes, lecture, topics, presentations and resource persons will address this situation squarely. It is hoped that the exhibitions will further buttress the fact of the place of CAM in health care,” he said.
Gen. Ali Mohammed-Biu (retired), a medical doctor, in his remarks, said that a key component of traditional Chinese medicine was acupuncture which was most commonly used to treat pain.
“Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management,” he said.
He said that acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force known as chi or qi (chee), is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in the human body.
According to him, by inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that the energy flow will re-balance.
He said that many view acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue.
Mohammed-Biu added that some believed that the stimulation boosts their body’s natural painkillers.
In her welcome address, Zainab Shariff, Director, Traditional Medicine Department, FMOH, noted that the role of stakeholders of CAM was in line with the recognition by World Health Organisation (WHO) of three health care systems – Allopathic or Orthodox, traditional and Complementary and Alternative medicines.
Shariff said that WHO defined complementary and alternative medicine as a group of health care practices that were not part of that country’s own traditional or conventional medicine and are not fully integrated into the dominant health care systems.
According to her, the scope of practices which constitute CAM varies from country to country.