Lagos unveils code of conduct handbook for traditional medicine practitioners

Lagos unveils code of conduct handbook for traditional medicine practitioners

The Lagos State Government yesterday unveiled a code of conduct handbook for traditional, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners as part of efforts to regulate their practice 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.

Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu who unveiled the document at a public symposium held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa to commemorate the Year 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day in Lagos, 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.

Sanwo-Olu who was represented by the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi averred that there is need to properly regulate the practice of the traditional, complementary and alternative medicine as about 80% of residents patronize the traditional and alternative health care practitioners for their health care needs.

While noting that the wellbeing of citizens is of utmost priority of administration, the Governor disclosed 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 State Government will continue to educate citizens on the benefits of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines and ensure that practitioners operate within their scope of practice.

He said: “As a government, we are concerned about the wellbeing of our citizens here in Lagos and we know that 80% 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 Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board.

Speaking on the theme of  the Y2022 African Traditional Medicine Day Celebration, “Two Decades of African Traditional Medicine: Progress Towards Achieving Universal Health Coverage in Africa”, the Governor said the theme is 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 licensed 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. It will also surprise you that the traditional medicine practitioners are in excess of the conventional doctors and nurses; there are only 4000 registered doctors in Lagos”, He said.

The Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folashade Jaji in her address at the event explained that the 2022 African Traditional Medicine Day Celebration presents 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.

Jaji who was represented by the Director, Political Service, Mrs Olabisi Shonibare stated further that the present administration remains 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 in his remarks, 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.

Dr. 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.

“Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board has been  doing a lot of work in  getting  traditional medicine practitioners registered and helping them to build their capacity including spending time with orthodox practitioners teaching them about different herbs and also work around regulating them”.

“Some of our people want to hide behind orthodox medicine when it pays them and hide behind traditional medicine when it pays them. These are things that we have been able to sought out among ourselves such that whichever side of the spectrum that you belong, you will be regulated for the protection of the people of Lagos. We need to keep quacks out of traditional medicine practice” He said.

Speaking in the same vein, the Chairman Traditional Medicine Board, Prof Adebukola Adefule Oshitelu in her remarks urged the traditional medicine practitioner to always operate within their scope so as to avoid putting their patients in greater risks.

She urged practitioners of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine to exude professionalism and be guided by the ethics of the profession at all times as codified in the handbook. She noted that every noble profession is guided by code of conducts that set it apart from practice by charlatans and quacks.

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