The Liberian Government, through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has finally launched a five-year plan on the usage of herbs (traditional/country medicine) in all health centers across the country. The program is a part of the country’s new health care system.
The Health Ministry, through the Division of Complementary Medicine, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC), the Complementary Board and the Traditional Medicine Federation of Liberia (TRAMEDFOL) developed the plan, called the National Traditional Medicine Policy and Strategy. The plan will run from 2015-2019.
During the formal launch of the five-year policy and strategy on traditional medicine, the Assistant Health Minister for Planning and Policy, Mr. Benedict C. Harris, said the national traditional medicine policy and strategy would complement conventional medical practices in Liberia.
During the launch over the weekend in Monrovia, Minister Harris said the process to develop this policy was consultative and participatory at all levels of the stakeholders within the country and it included a detailed situational analysis of traditional medicine in Liberia and a desk review of relevant documents and the regional policy framework on the alignment of the West African Health Organization (WAHO) countries’ policy harmonization.
Assistant Minister Harris, the developer of the Policy, said the Policy’s essential components include leadership and governance, building human resource capacity, financing, botanical research and development, manufacturing and infrastructure.
“To achieve Liberia’s vision of becoming a middle-income country, the goal of this policy is . . . to improve, on an equitable basis, the health and social welfare status of the population of Liberia,” Assistant Minister Harris stated. “Sustained leadership, stakeholders’ commitment, resources and efforts are needed to achieve this through strengthened leadership and governance for traditional medicine practices in Liberia; increase mobilization of adequate domestic and external sustainable financial resources to support traditional medicine practices; improve human resource planning, develop and manage traditional medicine practice in Liberia; ensure the establishment of traditional medicine infrastructure; and strengthen and develop research in the field of traditional medicine.”
The Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, Assistant Minister Saye Dahn Baawo and Dr. Nyaquoi K. Kargbo, Registrar of the LMDC, in separate remarks, said the policy is aimed at reforming and integrating quality, accessible, equitable and sustainable traditional medicine in the healthcare service delivery system for all people in the country.
Dr. Baawo said the government will continue to pledge its support to traditional medicines and the first phase of strategy will be the national data registry of all Liberian herbalists across the country.
For his part, Dr. Kargbo said the LMDC is pleased to witness the attached/or an annexed unit of traditional medicine at all health centers for patients to choose their kind of treatment.
The Director of Complementary Medicine, Dr. Edwin S. Quoibia, expressed his appreciation to organizations and individuals that provided assistance and support in planning, developing and finalizing the Policy. He especially thanked LMDC and their Resource Director, Dr. Moses G. Y. Pewu.
“We would like to appeal to all of our partners for their continual cooperation and support to the five-year Policy,” Dr. Quoibia said.
The Policy is intended to serve as a guide for Liberians, other partners and traditional medicine workers in implementing and furthering the needed reforms of traditional medicine in Liberia. The policy has been developed to integrate traditional medicine practices with the conventional Western medical practices within Liberia’s health system. It focuses attention on leadership and governance, financing, human resources research and development, including infrastructure and manufacturing.
The policy will apply to all institutions, organizations, individuals and other stakeholders involved with traditional medicine in the country. The application of this policy extends but will not be limited to herbalists, homeopath, acupuncturists, ayurvedic, osteopath, therapeutic massagers, drugless therapists, bone setters, traditional midwives, chiropractic, steam bath and food supplements.