Banjul to host Scientific Congress on Traditional Medicines, others

The West African Health Organisation (WAHO), in collaboration with the government of The Gambia, through the Ministry of Health, will host the seventh Scientific Congress of Traditional Medicine Practitioners and Conventional Medicine Practitioners in Banjul from the 3rd to 4th September 2015.

Speaking in a pre-congress interview with the Daily Observer, Bubakarr Sillah, the programme manager for National Traditional Medicine Programme at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said the conference is expected to be attended by delegates from all the ECOWAS member countries as well as the director general of WAHO, Dr. Xaver Crespin, other traditional medicine scientists who have several researches in the area of traditional medicine in Africa and beyond.

The purpose of this year’s congress, he explained, is to assess the current level of development of the traditional medicine sector in the ECOWAS countries with a view to identifying existing challenges and proposing workable solutions. Sillah further disclosed that the congress will be held under the distinguished patronage of His Excellency the President Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh Babili Mansa.

He said the President over the years has been promoting traditional medicine in the country and is a champion of traditional medicine, adding that the launching of 17th January as a National Traditional Medicine Day is a clear manifestation of the Gambian leader’s commitment towards its promotion.

Further on the congress, the programme manager said among the objectives of the conference are to share country experiences in developing their traditional medicine sector and also to discuss approaches of promoting traditional medicine in countries from conventional health practitioners’ perspective. He added that it also aimed to propose strategies for supporting countries still lagging behind in their traditional medicine development efforts and to discuss strategies for promoting the inter-country collaboration proposed.

Sillah posite that in spite of the huge advances in science and technology, traditional medicine remains the only source of healthcare for the vast majority of the African population with several sources indicating that about 80% of Africans rely on it to meet their healthcare needs. He added that even today herbal medicine remains the first line of treatment for 60% of children with malaria and induced high fever in some ECOWAS countries.

As part of the event, there would be sub-themes for the conference and among the topics include promoting traditional medicine in resources limited countries; improving documentation of the traditional medicine practices, a conceptual approach; strategies for promoting collaboration between practitioners of traditional medicine and conventional medicine; ethically sound, cultural-sensitive TM research and future prospects of traditional medicine in the ECOWAS region.

The Congress will also feature an exhibition from participants.