Experts call for integration of traditional, modern medical practices

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Medical experts and traditional medicine practitioners have called on the federal and state governments to integrate traditional discoveries and breakthroughs into modern medical practices.

Making the call at a seminar organised by the UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital (UTH), Osogbo, participants concluded that such practices cannot be wished away because they are still considered relevant by many people.

The UNIOSUN Chief Medical Director, Prof. Peter Babatunde Olaitan, in his welcome address, explained that it has become pertinent to look into this aspect of peoples lives because people still rely on herbs and roots, consult traditional medicine men and still seek spiritual help for their health needs.

Represented by the hospital’s Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), Dr Babatunde AfolabI, he stated that, “It is in line with this reality that the management of the hospital has thought it fit to aggregate opinions on the controversial issue of possible fusion of different aspects of human health care.

“Scientists and researchers in the country should look into traditional medications and refine and integrate new discoveries with a view to meeting the needs of the modern-day.

“This is done around the world in that modern medicine and drugs have their origin from vegetables and roots.”

He hinted that other countries of the world like China and India have ventured into such researches and have adopted integration of both the spiritual, orthodox and traditional to resolving human medical challenges.

Contributing, Dr Oluseyi Atanda, a Senior Consultant, UTH Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, who is also the President, Traditional Religion Worshippers Association of Osun State (TRWASO), defined traditional medicine as a set of knowledge, skills and practices based on theories, beliefs and experiences of different cultures whether explicable or not.

Atanda noted that traditional medicine is used for the maintenance of health and for the prevention, diagnosis, improvement of physical or mental illnesses.

While listing traditional healers in Africa to include herbalists, traditional birth attendants, traditional surgeons, medicinal ingredients dealers, traditional psychiatrists and therapeutic spiritualists, the TRWASO President added that within the past three decades, there have been changing views of herbs in particular as traditional medicine has moved from that of witches brew to major medicine.

He also decried the low recognition of traditional medicine by different governments adding that it is the last hope of all the diseases that orthodox practices cannot heal.

As a low-income country, the medical consultant cum herbalist advised the Federal Government to integrate traditional medicine as an important healthcare component.

The reason for this he added is because, “for 30 years now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has supported the development of traditional medicine in order to implement the slogan ‘Health For All’ by the year AD2000.”

Other speakers at the seminar included Prof. Oyekunle Oyelami of the Pediatrics Department, Wesley Guild, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital Complex, Ile-Ife, Osun State who delivered a paper titled: “Integration Of Traditional Discoveries Into Modern Medical Practices” and Dr (Mrs) Valeria Adefila, a Consultant Family Physician, who also delivered a paper titled: “Spirituality in Medicine”, where she averred that spirituality played vital roles when attending to a patient and that spirituality may be a coping tool to the patient.

The theme of the seminar was: “Integration of Traditional Discoveries into Modern Medical Practices”.

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