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close this bookTraditional Medicinal Plants (Dar Es Salaam University Press - Ministry of Health - Tanzania, 1991, 391 p.)
View the documentSession I
View the documentSession II
View the documentSession III
View the documentSession IV
View the documentSession V
View the documentSession VI
View the documentSpecial Session of Traditional Herbs
View the documentClosing Session

Session V

Chairman: Dr. A. Caceres
Rapporteur: Dr. J. D. Msonthi


Mr. Ventura Galegos (Mexico) stated that man is his own victim. He becomes sick because of his own technology. Therapeutic medicine is necessary for good health. Plants are used to prevent illness and keep the body equilibrium stable.

Mr. Wodwell Vongo - (Zambia) gave the definition of traditional medicinal plants and traditional medicine which is holistic, covering such aspects as cultural heritage, beliefs and customs passed from one generation to another. He said he is the Secretary General of an association of traditional practitioners in Zambia, and a member of the International Centre for Traditional Medicine in Central and Southern Africa, whose headquarters are based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He gave a brief history of his training as a traditional healer. He said that traditional medicine is not fully understood by medical doctors who usually condemned and rejected it. It is important that the two disciplines learn from each other. Traditional medicine is a practical science that requires sincerity and commitment. Illnesses include psychosomatic diseases, normally managed by traditional healers, while some organic illnesses are better treated by orthodox doctors. Where there is overlap, there should be proper referral systems between the two disciplines. He stated that traditional medicine, if used conjointly with modern medicine, will effectively bring good health care. Traditional healers should be helped by scientists in such areas as toxicity studies and posology, and governments should offer financial contributions towards training, legislation, and certification of Traditional Medicine, to reduce dependence on foreign exchange and bring about improved health.

Mr. Steven K. Makuu (Tanzania), on behalf of the healers who attended the conference, said that they were appreciative of their being invited. They use plants, seaweeds and other items to treat such illnesses as stroke, hypertension and AIDS. He said there was a need for the formation of an association which will link them with the government. There is need to establish medicinal plant fora, which would help to popularise traditional medicine at national level, to co-operate with pharmaceutical companies, and exchange information/and statistics, through journals and meetings, in the South Commission States.

Mrs. Hawa Nyamwicho (Tanzania) informed the delegates that she had successfully treated AIDS patients. She said all Holy Books state that all kinds of diseases can be treated, e.g. in the Koran, honey from the bee is used to prevent illness. She gave examples of cases which were treated for cancer, oedema, hydrocephaly, sterility and AIDS. In traditional medicine, the patient is harmonised with nature. She stated that stress and worries cause body unbalance and diseases, and these can be treated.

A request was made for scientific contribution to enhance the knowledge on medicinal plants and the introduction of large scale production of drugs from plants. The traditional healers are not all quack: they have a duty before God to help patients.


Dr. Antonio (Angola) and George Washington (Brazil) wanted to know the names of the plants in the formulation given to AIDS patients. The response given was that the concoction was made from several plants, and that a special diet which boosted the patient's immune system is also required.

Honorable Minister of Health of Sierra Leone, Dr., Johnson. The Minister reminded the scientists to uphold mutual respect of the two disciplines. Thus traditional healers should be treated with due respect, and it was therefore uncalled for that the Lady Traditional healer be asked to reveal the contents of her formulation.

Dr. Kofi (Kenya) confirmed the use of animal and plant material by a herbalist in Kenya on a patient who suffered from same ailments.

Dr. Bacon (Botswana) gave details of the export of root tubers of the grapple plant at a very low price and import of the same product in tablet forms at a very high price. This was in connection with Dr. Vongo's sample which was circulated.

Dr. E. Estrella (Ecuador) observed the fact that traditional medicine in Latin America is similar to that in Africa and is divided into two categories, country diseases which are psychosomatic and better handled by traditional healers using symptomatic diagnosis, and urban diseases, which are treated by modern doctors and traditional healers.

Dr. P.C. Rwangabo (Rwanda) wished the Tanzanian lady herbalist good luck in her endeavour to treat AIDS patients, and hoped she would get every help from scientific community to develop her drug.

Dr. Jonathan (Lesotho) suggested that traditional medicine be incorporated in medical school curricula if the gap between the two disciplines, is to be bridged.

Mr. Vongo (Zambia) urged that scientists should look at traditional medicine with a critical but open mind. He also stated that discipline has limited skills, and can play a role towards health care through a referral system. He emphasized that common language is necessary for the two disciplines to understand one another.

The Hon. Minister of Sierra Leone Dr. W. Johnson urged that we should try to process our medicinal plant formulations first for home consumption before we think of exports. We should promote co- operation through mutual respect, since traditional medicine is also a science. There is a need to respect the Lady traditional healer (Mrs. Nyamwicho), to protect integrity, and discoveries.

Dr. F. Mirez (Peru) reported that there were about 16 HIV positive cases treated for AIDS in Brazil using the following herbs: Ambrosia, Eseteria, Mentha periralis, Mintostachy, Peragonia Perezia and Uncaria tomentosa He stated that the people of Peru believe disease to be caused by lack of body balance and change of life energy, and that some spiritual diseases are treated in a ritual called "passing the egg".

Professor Koumare (Mali) suggested that traditional healers should be encouraged to use local terms and avoid the use of medical terms when discussing their work. He emphasized that there is need a for a true exchange of understanding through respect between the two systems.

Ms. Zahra Nuru (Chairperson of the Conference, Tanzania), requested the delegates to digest the message from the Chairman of the South-South Commission, and bring up comments for a discussion on the final date of the conference.