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Celebrating Ghana’s Rich Heritage in Traditional Medicine: Insights from Prof. Kwame Banga of UHAS

In the heart of Ghana’s healthcare history, lies a treasure trove of natural remedies-traditional medicine.

This age-old practice, embracing plants, leaves, herbs, animals, and other gifts of nature, has been the cornerstone of healing long before the colonial era introduced us to modern medicine.

Prof. Kwame Benoit Nguessan Banga, a leading figure at the Institute of Traditional and Alternative Medicine (ITAM), University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), shared his insights during a chat with the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

He passionately argues for a revival of trust in traditional medicine, urging Ghanaians to rediscover their roots in natural healing.

‘Long before the advent of modern labs and medicine, our ancestors were their own healers, using the rich biodiversity around them,’ Prof. Banga notes.

Despite initial resistance from colonial perspectives that demanded scientific validation, traditional medicine has stood the test of time, proving both effective and safe.

The journey wasn’t always
smooth. Earlier practitioners relied on oral traditions to pass down their knowledge, leading to gaps in scientific documentation.

Today, however, Prof. Banga sees a bright future. ‘We’re now uncovering solid evidence that our traditional remedies work, but it’s crucial to share this knowledge widely,’ encouraging more people to embrace these practices.

Prof. Banga’s belief in traditional medicine isn’t just academic; it’s personal.

He recounts a transformative encounter with a plant-based remedy from Burkina Faso that cured him of what was once deemed an incurable disease.

This experience, validated by medical tests, underscores the potential for Science and tradition to collaborate, creating innovative solutions unique to Africa.

Encouragingly, some hospitals in Ghana have begun integrating herbal treatments, responding to patient demands after rigorous laboratory tests.

This growing acceptance signals a broader shift towards recognising the value of herbal medicine, not only in Ghana but globally.

he World Health Organization has supported traditional medicine for over two decades, recognising its widespread use and advocating for regulatory frameworks to ensure safety and efficacy.

The establishment of UHAS’s Institute of Traditional and Alternative Medicine, alongside efforts by other state institutions, marks a significant step forward.

By training future practitioners and conducting research, these institutions aim to provide the scientific backing needed to fully integrate traditional remedies into our healthcare system.

This move is also poised to boost medical tourism, attracting individuals from around the world seeking alternative treatments.

Yet, challenges remain. Prof. Banga highlights the need for proper preservation, preparation, and dosing of herbal medicines to avoid toxicity.

Collaborations with the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners (GHAFTRAM), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), the Traditional Medicine Directorate (TAMD), and the Traditional Medicine Practic
e Council (TMPC) are crucial in advancing the practice, but more support is needed.

‘To truly make strides in traditional medicine, substantial funding for research and development is essential. We have the expertise; we just need the resources,’ Prof. Banga concludes.

As we celebrate Ghana’s rich heritage, let’s not overlook the wisdom embedded in our traditional medicine.

By valuing and integrating these practices into our healthcare system, we not only honour our ancestors but also open doors to innovative, culturally resonant healing methods for future generations.

Source: Ghana News Agency