Set to propose a bill to regulate traditional medicine practice in Nigeria
The Federal Ministry of Health, (FMOH) has said that it is set to propose a Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Abdulaziz Mashi Abdulaziz said this at a two-day CAM Stakeholders Forum on Wednesday in Abuja, organised by the African Traditional Medicine Department of the Ministry of Health.
At the forum with the theme: CAM Practices in Health Care, Abdulaziz said that the bill would provide an opportunity for the rapid development and integration of complementary and alternative medicine into the healthcare delivery system, which was seen as integrative medicine.
He said that the bill would seek to encourage, promote and regulate traditional medicine practice in Nigeria.
The permanent secretary said that complementary and alternative medicine which was also known as traditional medicine was very important to health care delivery.
According to him, there are people that provide complementary and alternative medicine services across the length and breadth of Nigeria.
“I believe most of us here have benefited from the knowledge and experience of those people, especially in the rural areas.
“In fact, a lot of people rely on it for their medical needs and others rely on it as their source of income and livelihood.
“The challenge is that there is no legislation to regulate the practice of this highly important and sensitive activity,” he said.
Abdulaziz said that lack of regulation exposed the practice to “unethical, crude and sharp practices by quacks who know nothing in the field of complementary and alternative medicine’’.
This, he said, could lead to dire consequences which were better imagined rather than experienced.
He further said that people had suffered a lot in the hands of fake traditional medical practitioners while some had even lost loved ones.
“The purpose of the bill is to establish, regulate, monitor and create an acceptable standard in alternative and traditional medicine industry as well as eliminate quacks.
“The ministry will implement all those recommendations and there will be many other benefits which include `saving people’s lives by eliminating quacks’.
He said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) made recommendations to all member countries at a congress of traditional medicine held in Beijing, China.
The recommendations, he said, were that each nation should have a national policy on complementary and alternative medicine as well as national regulation of traditional and herbal medicine.
The permanent secretary also said that the WHO recommended research on traditional, complementary and alternative medicine as well as its use in primary health care.
“Some countries around the world are already enjoying this kind of policy because herbal medicine can be found anywhere today in the world, at decent stores, and at conventional drug stores.
“That means income for the producer of that medicine as well as the originating country.
“In China, for example, herbal therapy is provided in state hospitals alongside conventional medicine, which means the two systems of traditional and western medicine need not clash.
“They can rather blend together in a beneficial harmony especially at primary health care level, “ he advised.
Abdulaziz noted that complementary and alternative medicine might include dietary supplements, megadose vitamins, herbal preparations, special teas, acupuncture, massage therapy, magnet therapy, spiritual healing, and meditation
The permanent secretary said FMOH would ensure that continuous awareness was given about complementary and alternative medicine as a means of providing comprehensive healthcare to Nigerians.
He said that the government would continue to support researchers and stakeholders in the various fields of healthcare, including complementary and alternative medicine in ensuring access to quality healthcare and the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), in the country.
Dr. Silvia Binder, Naturopathic Doctor, New York, and Germany, said that Integrative Medicine is healing-oriented medicine that took account of the whole person, including all aspects of lifestyle.
Binder said it also emphasised the therapeutic relationship between practitioner and patient.
In her welcome address Zaniab Shariff, Director, Traditional Medicine Department FMOH, noted that it was estimated that about 80 percent of the population living in rural areas used traditional medicine and complementary and alternative medicine as their first source of healthcare.
Shariff said that the overall goal of the forum was to harness the potential of this group of health practitioners towards improving health delivery in the country.
According to her, the event is also meant to be an avenue where issues relating to the development and promotion of complementary and alternative medicine can be discussed among stakeholders.