Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Uproar in Togo

The BBC reports that a government ban has been enforced on radio and television advertizements for traditional medicines in Togo. Phillipe Evegnon, president of the delightfully named High Audio Visual and Communication Authority, states that the advertizements poses risks to listeners and viewers, because the commercials give false information about the supposedly miraculous curative effect of herbal concoctions. Togolese radio and television stations are outraged, for obvious reasons: they get much of their revenue from traditional medicine commercials. About 80% of sub-Saharan Africans consult traditional healers; that is first-line medicine for the vast majority, who often cannot afford Western-style health care services anyway.

The relationship between traditional medicine in Africa and bioethics is sensitive. On the one hand, respect for culture seems to demand that the importance of traditional medicine in the life of Africans be acknowledged, particularly because it involves a gamma of longstanding, physical and spiritual healing practices. On the other hand, when clients are offered herbal remedies whose efficacy and side effects have not been tested, and when informed consent is considered a challenge to the authority of the healer, bioethicists (no matter where they are located) should raise objections. The more serious the ailment, and the more extravagant the claims made by the healer, the more responsibility the bioethicist (and lawyer, minister of health, and so on) has to advocate for the protection of patients. Aceme Nyika wrote a good article on this in Developing World Bioethics recently, though it makes you wonder whether traditional healers will survive being regulated by ethics committees and medical boards.

1 Comments:

Blogger chalacuna said...

herbal medicine is the most ancient form of medical practice together with chanting and other forms of rituals.

at present herbal medicine has grown in popularity in urban cities for. many people are turning to alternative medicine to relieve minor illness and sometimes used herbs to cure serious diseases such as cancer.

herbs are the primary ingredient for the modern drugs which undergoes series of refinements to make it more safe to humans.

herbal medicine very effective yet without any side effects as compared to synthetic drugs.

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