The government of Lagos State has revealed that 80 per cent of residents patronize dealers of alternative or traditional medicine, popularly called ‘Agbo’ for their health care needs.
The government released a code of conduct handbook for traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners as part of efforts to regulate the practice of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine in the state.
The 12-page document developed by the Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board, LSTMB, clearly outlines appropriate conduct expected of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners; traditional medicine ingredients and herbal product sellers (Elewe-Omo); and botanical and herbal product dispenser (Alagbo), as well as offences and penalties for defaulters.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, made the remarks at the unveiling of the document at a public symposium, held at Alausa, Ikeja, to commemorate the Year 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day in Lagos.
Sanwo-Olu, represented by state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, explained that the code of conduct handbook was developed to guide traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners aright in providing qualitative healthcare services to citizens whilst conforming to basic ethical standard.
The governor stressed the need to properly regulate the practice of the traditional, complementary and alternative medicine as about 80 per cent of residents patronize the traditional and alternative health care practitioners for their health care needs.
While noting that the wellbeing of citizenry is of utmost priority of administration, the governor said: “As a government, we are concerned about the wellbeing of our citizens here in Lagos and we know that 80 per cent of you are using traditional medicine or alternative medicine. It is imperative that we understand what you are using, for your own safety.
“One of the key responsibilities of government is public protection and so our role is to make sure that you are aware of the benefits of traditional medicine and also aware that if the practice is not regulated, may be harmful.”
Sanwo-Olu, who stated that the code of conduct handbook for practitioners is the first of its kind in Nigeria, explained that development and launch of document is an indication of the commitment of the state government to fight quackery in traditional and alternative medicine practice as well as a show of professionalism of the LSTMB.
Speaking on the theme: “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine: Progress Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa,” Sanwo-Olu said it was well thought out as it underscores an urgent need to ensure that both traditional and conventional medicine work together to provide sustainable health care delivery to citizens.
“It is important for us to find a way in which traditional and conventional medicine can work together. When you go to India, China and other places you walk into a health facility and you see traditional medicine practitioners on one side and conventional practitioners on the other side, and they tend to collaborate very well because everyone knows their boundaries. It is very important that you do not practice outside of your scope because you are putting the life of your patients at risk’’ he said.
While explaining the importance of traditional medicine practice in the state, Abayomi, disclosed that there are about 10000 registered traditional Medicine practitioners in the state which is an excess of 4000 orthodox doctors in Lagos.
“It may surprise you that there are 10000 registered traditional medicine practitioners in Lagos State. Registered practitioners, which means, you have been issued a certificate as licenced to practice within a sub discipline of the traditional medicine accredited by the traditional medicine board.
In addition to that there are at least 500 registered complementary and alternative medicine practitioners in Lagos today. The traditional medicine practitioners are in excess of the conventional doctors and nurses; there are only 4000 registered doctors in Lagos,” he said.
Secretary to the State Government, Mrs. Folashade Jaji, explained that the 2022 celebration presented another opportunity to educate the people on the benefits of traditional medicine adding that traditional medicine has proven to be effective in treating diseases and other health related issues including stress and anxiety.
According to Jaji, who was represented by the Director, Political Service, Mrs. Olabisi Shonibare, the present administration remained committed to the achievement of its health and environment mandate of the themes agenda and will not relent in policy making and implementation geared towards achieving a sustainable health care delivery system in the state.
Earlier, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye, stated that the Lagos state Traditional Medicine Board has been doing a lot of work around getting traditional medicine practitioners registered and helping them build their capacity for effective service delivery.
Ogboye explained further that the State government is committed to eradicating quacks from traditional medicine practice, adding that all health care givers in the state will be properly regulated irrespective of the spectrum, stressing that some practitioners tend to hide under orthodox or traditional practice whenever it pays them.
Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman Traditional Medicine Board, Prof Adebukola Oshitelu, urged the traditional medicine practitioner to always operate within their scope so as to avoid putting their patients in greater risks.
She urged practitioners to exude professionalism and be guided by the ethics of the profession at all times as codified in the handbook.
Oshitelu, noted that every noble profession is guided by code of conducts that set it apart from practice by charlatans and quacks.