AFRICAphonie, a Buea-based civil society organization involved in social issues inspired by indigenous knowledge advocacy has made strides to bridge the gap among Traditional Health Practitioner on the one hand and between Modern medical practitioners and tradi-health practitioners on the other.
The need for collaboration among traditional health practitioners and medical practitioners was therefore the thrust of a two-day workshop on “Indigenous Knowledge and HIV/AIDS management in Cameroon: the case of traditional medicine” organized by AFRICAphonie.
Opening the workshop, AFRICAphonie’s Executive Director, Mwalimu George Ngwane revisited the historical background on traditional medicines vis-a vis his organization’s mission statement which has all culminated in 31 August being declared African Traditional Medicine Day to further raise awareness even though the day is still timidly celebrated by tradi-health practitioners with mutual distrust rather than mutual respect and partnership, Ngwane stated.
George Ngwane said “The rationale of this workshop therefore is to create spaces that would provide a healthy conversation between the Ministry of Health and tradi-health practitioners”. He saluted the partnership initiated by the East and West regional delegations of Health with traditional health practitioners stating that such inter-professional dialogue that has for outcome the improvement of healthcare delivery system should be encouraged.
However, the Executive Director said traditional health practitioners whom he said lack a vibrant networking link or even a coalition to permit knowledge sharing and experience exchange among themselves need to be organized first before seeking to engage the medical practitioners.
Resource persons like Cameroon’s former Health Minister and now founding President of Global Health Dialogue, Prof. Gottlieb Lobe Monekosso, underscored the need for traditional health practitioners to collaborate. To him, collaboration will not only facilitate legislation and provide shortcuts to the discovery of new drugs from medicinal plants but will also ease elimination of quacks and charlatans who damage the reputations of traditional medicine and harm the population amongst others.
Prof. Monekosso while commending the AFRICAphonie initiative exhorted participants especially tradi-health practitioners not to let go the opportunity offered by the workshop.
Other speakers at the workshop included Esther Omam, a civil society leader of Reach Out who talked on the nutritional values for HIV/AIDS patients and veteran Journalist and Health Communicator Robert Abunaw who spoke on Marketing and Communication Strategies for traditional practitioners respectively.
Other hallmarks of the two-day forum coordinated by MUDEC Group leader, Charlie Mbonteh, also included a display of newspaper cutting on HIV/AIDS management, exhibitions of products, brochures of tradi-health practitioners and testimonies during which, one Janet Ake, an HIV positive since 1999 explained how she was put on drugs in 2005 and dropped Anti Retroviral treatment in 2005 due to financial difficulties. She said, she has been on traditional drugs by Maurice Ambeno since February 2009 and now feels strong.
A ten-person working group was formed at the end of the workshop to streamline the resolutions reached at the workshop and follow up the creation of a network of traditional health practitioners on the one hand and modern medical practitioners on the other, for, according to Monekosso today’s traditional medicine is the mother of tomorrows modern medicine.