General News of Thursday, 4 September 2003

Source: GNA

AIDS Commission concerned about claims of herbal cure

The Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC), Professor Sakyi Amoa has expressed concern about the over-enthusiasm of some herbalists claiming to have herbal cure for the HIV/AIDS disease.

He said until the Commission had established the appropriate mechanisms to satisfactorily test their herbal preparations, such claims should be ignored.

Prof Amoa was speaking at a forum organised by the Ghana Federation of Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (GHAFTRAM) at Koforidua on Wednesday.

He said the Commission appreciated efforts by the herbalists to find a cure for the HIV/AIDS disease and noted that the potential existed for a cure for the deadly disease to be found "one day." Prof Amoa said he had received several requests from some herbal practitioners to test the efficacy of their herbs on HIV/AIDS patients but had to turn down the requests due to the consequences involved. He said although the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research was capable of establishing the efficacy of those herbal preparations, "it will not be made a dumping ground for all manner of herbal preparations simply because a herbalist claims to have preparations to cure HIV/AIDS".

He explained that due to the high cost involved in carrying out such tests, guidelines were being outlined for herbalists wishing to do so to comply with before their drugs would be accepted for testing at the Institute.

He said the AIDS Commission was bringing together research institutions including the NNMIR, the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine at Mampong-Akwapim and the Department of Herbal Medicine at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, to harness their complementary roles in herbal medicine research.

The Eastern Regional Co-ordinator of the Ghana AIDS Commission, Dr Samson Ofori, said Koforidua and Agormanya had the highest prevalent rates of 8.5 per cent and 7.9 per cent respectively, while Obuasi, Navrongo and Tema followed with the prevalent rate of five per cent each.

Prof Alexander Kwadwo Nyarko of the NNMIR said only few plant medicines had been certified so far as safe for human use especially, for the management of HIV/AIDS at the Institute.

He said both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the country had policies to promote the use of proven safe and efficacious herbal medicine for the disease and called for effective collaboration among the stakeholders to make the policy a success.

Dr William Ampofo also of the NNMIR said since the disease was reported in Ghana in the 1980s no one had tested negative at the Institute after taking herbal medicine. "Once infected, the patient carried the virus for life," he warned.

Dr Naa Ashley Vanderpuje of the West Africa AIDS Foundation stressed the need for good nutrition, personal hygiene and preventive healthcare as safe means of preventing infection.

The National President of the GHAFTRAM, Dr Anthony Normeshie said the country had both the herbal plant and the human resources to be harnessed to fight the disease and called for effective collaboration between traditional medicine practitioners, the Ministry of Health and the GAC to find the cure. 04 Sep. 03