By Mercy Oyaya
TICAH, a Kenyan non-profit trust, has been working to learn what our culture, traditions and communities have to teach us about health and healing.
It hosts training programs for HIV-affected households, youth, and children. They have been training volunteers from Viwandani, Korogocho and Majengo in nutritional and herbal remedies for common conditions.
In 2003, TICAH began interviewing HIV-positive people in Asia and Africa to see what medicines and foods they were using to stay healthy and to treat the illness. Its book “Using Our Traditions: An Herbal and Nutritional Guide for Kenyan Families,” is a collection of simple herbal and nutritional remedies to treat or prevent 52 common illnesses.
“For five years, our work in communities has shown us that we can make a big difference in the health of our families if we remember some of the things our grandparents used and if we learn from simple, natural remedies people in other parts of the world use. When we do this together, we can learn from different traditions and communities and use what is available to us to stay strong and healthy,” says the report.
Since the adoption of TICAH strategy, more than half of the 46 African member states have formulated national traditional medicine policies and regulatory frameworks to ensure the efficacy, safety and quality of traditional medicines and the regulation of the practice of Traditional Health Practitioners.
Some countries have established structures, programmes and offices in their Ministries of Health to institutionalize traditional medicine in health care systems. Currently there are 36 countries with such policies and 39 countries with offices in Ministries of Health to support the development of traditional medicine.
Training institutions such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana have established a Department of Herbal Medicine under the College of Health Sciences for the training of herbal medicine specialists and to provide continuing education for Traditional Health Practitioners.
The aim of celebrating the Traditional Medicine Day is to recognize the good work of trainers, community partners, and acknowledging the richness and diversity of plant medicine and health knowledge among the many communities.