Ghanaians from time immemorial have traditionally and culturally been using herbal medicine to treat a wider spectrum of medical condition, yet there are a number of factors that have been militating against herbal medicine use. Notably among them are negative perceptions and attitudes about herbal medicine, poor sanitary vending environment, lack of proper knowledge among the vendors, high cost of herbal products at some credible herbal clinics and irregular potency of some herbal products.
Despite these challenges, the majority of herbal medicine users in the country have been calling for the national health insurance scheme to cover the cost of herbal medicine to alleviate the financial burden associated with herbal medicine use.
This is because a good number of Ghanaians have embraced the use of herbal medicine as a contemporarily alternative treatment of illness in the country.
Herbal Medicine, also known as Complementary Alternative Medicine, CAM, is an integral part of treating and maintaining health that existed before the advent of orthodox medicine.
According to research studies Anthropological and cross-cultural perspectives indicate that some diseases are presumably to be treated outside the confine of a formal healthcare system.
Herbal Medicine is culturally acceptable and widely utilized in most parts of Africa particularly Ghana for a wide spectrum of medical condition.
In Ghana, knowledge of herbal medicine has almost become a common commodity in most homes with evidence of increasing usage, and herbal medicines are used for the treatment and management of disease such as broken legs, foot rots and chronic ailments such as hemorrhoids, stroke, fevers, and diabetes, cancer among others.
It should be noted that Ghana has the potential to expand the use of herbal medicine to treat a wider spectrum of clinical illnesses. That it is why it is important to develop this potential through every possible means with the right mechanism and standards.
Herbal medicine practitioners should be given a comprehensive training to ensure that these providers are well-informed about specific herbal medicines and its rightful application.
As it stands now one could conclude that the majority of herbal medicine practitioners do not have scientific and theoretical knowledge from universities, but their training is verbal and some were trained by their family members who were herbalist themselves.
That is why it will be extremely beneficial for Ghana to ensure that herbal medicine providers receive regular education and training from even tertiary institutions to help increase the credibility of herbal medicine in contemporary healthcare.
It is refreshing to know that Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNU ST, in Kumasi has a specific training on herbal medicine.
The herbal medicine training is a 4-year Bachelor of Science, B.Sc. program.
The program has an arrangement put in place to ensure that graduates are licensed by the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Council as herbal medicine practitioners who are authorized to administer and prescribe herbal medicine for clients both in the government and private hospitals in the country.
However, those training programs and facilities should be expanded to other public universities including Cape Cost University, University of Ghana among others.
Obviously, the use of herbal medicine to treat various clinical ailments cannot be isolated from the contemporary health care system.
The health care system should inculcate herbal medicine as an alternative treatment to holistically serve the larger population, especially patients.
We should make sure that Clients or patients who patronize herbal medicine be critically informed as to how to consume herbal product they use. Furthermore, Producers, vendors and those who prescribe herbal medicine should adequately be educated so that they could confidently make effective advice to users and prospective clients.
Despite all the negative perceptions of herbal medicine, a good number of Ghanaians still use it.
Therefore, there must be systems to be put in place to ensure that herbal medicine on the market are safe for treatment of diseases in the country.