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Lagos unveils code of conduct for traditional medicine practitioners

The Lagos State Government has introduced a Code of Conduct Handbook in a bid to regulate the activities of traditional medicine practitioners in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu unveiled the 12-page document on Thursday at a public symposium held to commemorate the year 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day in Lagos.

The handbook, which was developed by the Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board (LSTMB), “clearly outlines the guidelines for traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners, traditional medicine ingredients prescribed for herbal product sellers (Elewe-Omo) as well as botanical and herbal product dispensers (Alagbo), just as it states offences and penalties for defaulters.”

The governor, represented by the state’s Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi, affirmed that there is a need to ensure proper monitoring of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine as about 80 per cent of citizens patronise traditional and alternative health care practitioners for their health care needs.

He noted that the state government will take responsibility for ensuring that the traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practice is in line with best practices.

He added that the government will continue to educate citizens on the benefits of traditional medicine to ensure that practitioners operate within their scope of practice.

Speaking further, Mr Sanwo-olu urged members of LSTMB to maintain good work ethics and professionalism, warning that anyone found practising any form of healthcare delivery without a licence, will be sanctioned and prosecuted.

He decried the high incidence of quackery, traditional medicine hawkers and concoction mixers, stating that it posed a serious health risk to the community.

He also emphasised that traditional medicine must be regulated for proper restructuring, regulation and accreditation by the LSTMB to eliminate quackery in the health profession.

The Governor acknowledged the efforts and immense contributions of traditional medicine practitioners to the health sector through the provision of alternative means of treating some terminal diseases.

“To maintain the track record and enjoy government’s support and recognition, ensure you do not practice outside your scope, If you do that, you have run foul of the law ”, he said.

The Secretary to the State Government, Folashade Jaji, in her comments appreciated the resilient members of LSTMB for their tenacity in harnessing the development of traditional medicine for both the health and economic development of the people.

“Traditional Medicine is the only healthcare service that is readily available, accessible and affordable; this underscores the significant contribution of traditional medicine as a major provider,” she said.

Represented by the Director, of Political Affairs and Special Duties, Olabisi Shonibare, Mrs Jaji urged practitioners to improve their practice through standardisation of their operations by keeping proper records and data collection and also to expose fake or quack practitioners.

African Traditional Medicine Day is celebrated every 31 August to promote the importance of the continent’s rich biodiversity of medicinal plants and herbs in improving well-being, according to the WHO African region.

Speaking on the theme of the 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day Celebration: “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine: Progress Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa”, Mr Sanwo-Olu said the theme was well thought out as it underscored the urgent need to ensure that both traditional and conventional medicine work together to provide sustainable healthcare delivery to citizens.

He stated that there are about 10,000 registered traditional medicine practitioners in the State, which is in excess of 4000 orthodox doctors in Lagos.

In her remarks, the Chairman of the Traditional Medicine Board, Adebukola Adefule-Oshitelu, urged traditional medicine practitioners to always operate within their scope to avoid putting patients at risk.

She urged practitioners of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine to exude professionalism and be guided by the profession’s ethics at all times as codified in the handbook.

He noted that every noble profession is guided by a code of conduct that sets it apart from practice by charlatans and quacks.

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