From Aniekan Aniekan, Calabar

Following the outbreak of the dreaded corona virus around the world and its devastating impact on health systems, the Federal Government decided to harness the abundant trado medical  resources in the country to address health challenges.

The vision  was actualized through the establishment of the Department of Traditional, Complimentary & Alternative Medicine under the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. This was  approved by the Head of Service in a letter referenced OHCSF/MSO/72/IV/132 and dated 4th April 2018.

The objectives of this memo among others was to develop, implement and monitor compliance of policies and initiate legislation relating to traditional, complimentary & alternative medicine as well as provide related services.

In addition, it aimed to  promote development and commercialization of indigenous Nigerian traditional medicine; to integrate traditional, complimentary and alternative medicine into the national health care system.

From the academic point of view, the National University Commission (NUC) already captured Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among courses for Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences under to train graduates on how to integrate traditional, complimentary and alternative medicine into the National Health Care System.

In line with the government’s plan, the premier private university in Cross River State, the Arthur Jarvis University, which commenced academic activities in 2017 keyed into this. The institution’s  governing council approved the construction and equipping of a standard Institute of trado-medical research within the University Campus.

Speaking on this recently, the institution’s chancellor, Arthur Jarvis, said the institute will utilize the abundant forest resources in its locality.

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“We will make use of the wide  range of herbs from the surrounding forest resources around the university community and the available traditional medical practitioners within and around our locality to treat some of the life threatening illnesses like hemorrhoids (pile), prostate, diabetes, asthma, kidney stone, cancer, fibroid, epilepsy, bone fracture/dislocation/setting, etc.

“We are happy to announce to our community and the world at large that our well-equipped Institute of Trado-Medical Research at our University campus, in Akpabuyo LGA, Cross River State, Nigeria is open for treatment of individuals diagnosed of any of these life- threatening illnesses as mentioned earlier, while we research,” the Chancellor said.

However, the state government through the ministry of health has frowned at this development. This follows a public service announcement signed by the state’s health commissioner, Dr Henry Egbe Ayuk.

The statement which did not specifically mention the institution by name said the claims are still largely uninvestigated and unpublished.

Ayuk said: “This is to, for the umpteenth time, inform the general public to ignore any information concerning medical practices, be it orthodox or traditional-medical that do not have the seal of the State Ministry of Health.

“Just recently, the public has been inundated with all forms of innuendoes on recent breakthrough in traditional medicine by a particular tertiary institution in Cross River State for the treatment of sundry ailments. These claims are still largely uninvestigated and unpublished.”

He emphasized that while government welcomes stakeholders involvement in delivering health services, it will not  allow the  use her citizens as subjects for research purposes or under any guise without due process and the necessary professional clearances as this portends grave danger for the health of our people.

“Medical breakthroughs are usually empirically tested, scientifically proven and evidence-based. The public is therefore advised to resist persons, groups or institutions in whatever guise and keep away from all medical practices without the seal of government.”

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