Health is a very important aspect of our human life. A nation can only survive when it has its citizens in good health. The issue of health in Ghana has been of great interest to past and present leaders. Some policies like health insurance, free maternal care, building of hospitals, poly clinics and various health centres among others has been brought up to help improve on the conditions surrounding health in Ghana.
Among all these solutions is the focus on herbal medicine. Formally herbal medicine was more common due to the fact that, a lot of people did not believe in these western pharmaceutical products. Most people especially the rural folk preferred to use what they were used to, rather than some “foreign things” they don’t even know its origin. Formally or informally these drugs have passed the test of time. From raw and unprocessed herbs, they are gradually being semi processed or packaged to be sold.
There are some people who are so used to not going to the hospital. Especially in the rural areas, these people don’t even worry themselves when they feel any funny symptom of not being well. As soon as they see a sign of not being fine, they go to the bush or forest as some others may call it, get some herbs and boil them. They drink it and amazingly, they are fine. They say that either they don’t have money to go to the hospital or the hospital is a bit far from their homes.
When asked why people prefer these herbal medicine, a lot of people say that its safer and has no side effects. Others take in either the herbal or western made medicines based on how well that medicine is recommended by other people with similar medical conditions. There are some others who combine both the herbal and western medicine. This is usually not advisable for the fear of not knowing the composition of both medicines and the side effects which could come up. Some others prefer herbal medicine because it’s quiet affordable.
In Ghana there are many hospitals and medicine producing companies who go solely traditional or herbal medicine. They include; Lucky herbal, Tianshi Ghana, Edmark Bubble, Champion Divine Clinic, Green Life Products, Empire Herbal Centre, Ameen Scientific Herbal Clinic , Tinatett Herbal Company and many others. Some offer health care services, checkup, admission as well as products for sale.
To make herbal medicine safer and more formal, the government has established the Alternate Medicine Directorate, Department of Herbal Medicine and the Center for Plant Medicine Research. These three basically check to see if ay herbal drug being consumed is safe enough and doesn’t have any side effects. The Food and Drugs Authority also serves as the national regulatory body responsible for the regulation of such products. In the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the course in herbal medicine offered. This is to encourage people interested in herbal medicine to get their dream more polished and useable in the 21st Century.
If you may ask, I would say that herbal medicine is good but there are still so many things to do to make it improve. The nation faces a lot of challenges when it comes to the quest to make things better with regards to herbal medicine. This is basically on the support it needs to fight certain things when it comes to herbal medicine. The country wants to make most of these drugs legal hence they need to go through testing. A lot of the producers are illiterates and spiritually mind centered and do not see the importance of getting these drugs tested. They feel the drugs may be given some chemical additions making them impure.
Most of these herbal medicines haven’t been tested by the Food and Drugs Authority. Those that have been tested have proven to be very effective and useful. It’s very dangerous that most of the untested are still on the market because people end up consuming things they have no idea of their composition or side effects This problem is due to the herbalists or producers not wanting to go through any long procedures before their drugs are accepted their drugs are accepted by the Food Drugs Authority. Some also believe that they are going to be charged huge sums of money for testing. The consumer is thus not fully communicated to whether these drugs are certified or not as the producer doesn’t also have any idea what goes into the testing.
This brings us to the challenge of good information. A lot of people have very little or no knowledge about registering a product. They have a misconception that these processes take forever to complete and so it’s better to just go ahead with selling the products after testing them on one or two people. Sometimes the actual scientists need tangible answers to certain questions but when they ask these herbalists they are not able to answer. It poses a problem because these scientists end up having their own explanations rather than what exactly the issue may be. Another problem has to do with lack of good education for the general public. The general public needs to be told that it’s not right for them to patronize drugs without tags and any certification. There are laws governing the sale of these products and their advertisement, but unfortunately a lot of these herbalists are not selling authorized medicines. Some of these people have no knowledge of human anatomy and always end up linking everything with spirituality. Some radio and TV stations advertise these products though they are not approved by the Food and Drugs Board. Most of the dealers attribute their decision of not going through the process of getting their drugs tested to the fact that the test sometimes takes so long. They believe that waiting is not only a waste of time but money as well.
Despite this they still sell their products even though they haven’t been registered with any authority. Its unspeakable that some even sell in cars, aside various adverts. This poses the consumers at risk of taking wrong drugs for wrong purposes. There have been instances where people lose their lives or get complications when they take these drugs.
Herbal medicine has stood the test of time and is believed to cure a variety of diseases like; malaria, sexually related problems, fever, skin disorders, stroke, menstrual pain among others. It will surprise you that some diseases like Hepatitis B and HIV are believed to be curable with certain herbal drugs.
Herbal medicine in Ghana I think would be better off if certain measures are put in place for its production, test and sale. It wouldn’t only clear the atmosphere of fake and dangerous drugs but also bring to book unauthorized sellers and make people accept the existence of such drugs even better. If these drugs are even looked into properly, it may stand the chance of getting investment from outside the country and be well recognized.