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Minister announces plans to weed out con medicine men

Minister Sey said the registration of all traditional medical practitioners had already begun, and those whose facilities are not up to standards would be stopped from the practice.  

“By next week, we will pay a visit to them,” he informed the National Assembly of the Gambia while laying a motion before the Assembly for the adoption of January 17 as National Natural Medicine Day. This was unanimously approved.

January 17 was the date the Gambian president Yahya Jammeh declared that he had found treatment for HIV/AIDS.

Minister Sey said the commemoration of the day would promote and increase public awareness on the “meaningful” role of the traditional medicine in the socio-economic development of the country. 

“The Gambia is well known for its numerous contributions in the area of traditional medicine,” he said, citing what he called achievements of the president’s treatment of asthma, hypertension, stroke and infertility. 

He added: “The president did not only stop at this, but he also established traditional health facility… These achievements have undoubtedly put Gambia prominently on the world map in the area of traditional medicine.”

He informed deputies that his government’s move was in line with the aspirations of the World Health Assembly and Ecowas. 

“Additionally,” he explained, “as per WHO estimates, almost 80 percent of the population of the developing countries consult traditional medicine practitioners for their primary health care needs.”

The information Minister Sey provided to the NAMs set the tone for debate as parliamentarians took turn to make interventions with an emphasis on the president’s treatment. 

“We all know that [scientifically] it takes a man and a woman to produce a child, but [traditionally] that responsibility is placed on the shoulders of the woman,” the deputy speaker, Fatou Mbye has said.  

“As a woman, if you’re married and did not conceive, you are called names. Now, we have somebody who can give us an alternative. Treating infertility is godly,” she added, referring to the president’s infertility treatment. 

Also contributing was Hon. Seedy Njie, a nominated member who believed that the president’s treatment had restored confidence in traditional medicine. 

The Member for Banjul Central, Abdoulie Saine, even went further to suggest that every Gambian should contribute D5 towards the sustenance of the president’s treatment.

 

Weight against western medicine

Some parliamentarians came down heavily against conventional western medicine.  “For those of us from the rural areas, traditional medicine is more valuable because it’s cheaper, efficient and accessible,” says Hon. Bintanding Jarjue of Foni Bintang. The NAMs believed that the widespread condemnation that greeted the president’s herbal treatment was driven by the profit motives of the pharmaceuticals. 

 

Concerns 

Concerns were however raised by the legislators over the lack of proper oversight of the traditional healers.  The health minister however said his government is taking adequate measures to regulate herbal treatment with the coming of a policy and strategic plan. 

 

By Saikou Jammeh 

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