Fifth African Traditional Medicine Day Celebrated
Today the World Health Organization (WHO) Ethiopia Country Office hosted the celebration of the Fifth African Traditional Medicine Day with a half day panel discussion and exhibition of products of research on traditional medicine at the Conference Hall of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). This year the African Traditional Medicine Day was commemorated for the fifth time under the theme “Research and development of traditional medicine in the WHO African Region".
Mr Bekele Tefera, National Professional Officer for Essential Drugs and Medicines policy program of WHO Ethiopia Country Office welcomed the guest of Honor and the and participants and outlined the program of the day. He said that, the panel discussion focuses on what has been achieved so far in research and development on traditional medicine as well as on the current challenges and prospects of the sector.
In Her opening speech the Guest of Honor, Dr. Tsehainesh Messele, Director of the Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) said “The safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicinal products and practices have become important concerns for both health authorities and the public. In this regard, the theme of the anniversary of the African Traditional Medicine Day is appropriate and timely since it signifies the need for undertaking scientific research to generate evidences for the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicinal products and practices. It also reminds us of the need to look back on what has been achieved so far in research and development of traditional medicine”.
She told the participants of the panel discussion that the Ethiopian government has established appropriate organizational structures for undertaking research on traditional medicine and has been supporting researchers by allocating financial resources and creating enabling environment.
Referring to the theme of this year’s celebration, Research and Development of Traditional Medicine, Dr. Nehemie Mbakuliyemo WR, a.i, said that the main reasons for choosing this theme are:
- to raise the awareness of policy makers, the public, other stake holders and the traditional medicine practitioners on the need to establish the safety , efficacy and quality of traditional medical products and services through scientific research and development;
- to encourage collaboration between conventional medicine practitioners or researchers and traditional medicine practitioners; and
- to advocate for the integration of traditional medicine proven to be safe and effective into the health system.
Regarding WHO’s collaboration with Ethiopia in the area of traditional medicine, Dr. Nehemie said that since 1970 WHO has been supporting the research work in traditional medicine, development of regulation and guidelines for the control traditional medicines, training of technical personnel working in research and control activities, etc. WHO will continue to support the development of traditional medicine in a result oriented and focused manner.
Representatives of six research and academic institutions, traditional medicine practitioners association and the Drug regulatory authority participated as panelists.
The contributions of Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institutes, the School of Pharmacy, the Department of Biology of the Addis Ababa University and the institute of Biodiversity and Conservation to research and development of Traditional Medicine and some the challenges encountered were presented and extensively discussed by the panelists. In addition, the collaboration between traditional medicine practitioners and researchers on traditional medicine was presented by the president of the Association of Traditional Medical Practitioners.
During the 45 minutes discussion that followed the presentations a number of issues concerning traditional medicine, including the conservation of medicinal plants, were raised and discussed extensively. There were a total of seventy participants at the panel discussion.
Finally Mr. Bekele Tefera, National Professional Officer for Essential drugs and Medicine Policy programme of WCO Ethiopia made a brief presentation of WHO’s support to research and development of traditional medicine in Ethiopia.
Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, the participants and the Guest of Honor, visited the Exhibition of products of research and development on traditional medicine which were displayed outside of the conference hall.
It is to be recalled that, The AU summit of Heads of states and governments which took place in Maputo, Mozambique in July 2003 endorsed the African Traditional Medicine Day and WHO instituted 31 August for the commemoration.