Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine in Africa: 7 ways it can be done

By Denis Mumwi
TAPSA, Tanzania

Health delivery system is the coordination of institutions, resources and people involved in health care services provision to meet the health needs of the population. Transformation of health delivery systems in Africa aims at improving the delivery of services to Africans.

Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine in health delivery systems focuses on bringing changes and improving health delivery by making mainstream medicine and non mainstream medicine work together.

Orthodox medicine involves services provided by healthcare professionals who have attained educational qualifications as required by the curriculum, while complementary medicine involves health care practitioners with non curriculum qualifications.

The following are aspects with suggestions which can be targets through which integration of orthodox and complementary medicine can be established to bring transformation of health delivery systems in Africa as they are the main aspects that bring challenges;

1.Registration and licensing of health delivery practitioners

The legal system should be accessible and cooperative in the registration of traditional or complementary medicine practitioners as they face hindrances in accessing the legal bodies because they are less prioritized compared to orthodox medicine practitioners. Good registration system will avoid false health delivery experts and build trust in the society.

2. Environment for delivery of health services

Most of places for traditional healing are poorly located – they are difficult to reach as they can be caves or in the midst of huge forests giving a hard task to the sick. Traditional healers should be located in areas that can be easily reached by people in order to ease health delivery. Appropriate location is important for both orthodox and complementary medicine.

3. Diagnosis prior to treatment

Diagnosis of the problem before treatment will help in increasing the accuracy of treatment for both orthodox and complementary medicine. Complementary medicine healers should be assisted to know proper diagnostic procedures as many symptoms are similar for different diseases. This will improve the quality of health services.

4. Medicines, efficiency of treatment and cost effectiveness

There should be testing for safety of medicinal substances to ensure the right dosage at the right time for the right condition at affordable prices. Pollutants should be minimized especially in complementary medicine to enable quantity measuring and thus the efficiency of treatment is increased.

5. Information and equipment technology

Patient records should be well recorded so as to monitor the progress of treatment which is helpful for knowing its efficiency, controlling its side effects and assessing its compliance. Also, proper and sterilized equipment should be used to prevent spread of diseases. This should be an obligation for both orthodox and complementary medicine.

6.Education to successive generations

There should be proper teaching techniques to help in the passing of knowledge from one generation to another, especially for complementary medicine where traditional healers are reluctant to teach others. Complementary medicine should be included in the education curriculum and taught in classes as this will preserve the knowledge and also lead to innovations of treatments.

7. Medical researches

This will improve treatment as new discoveries rely on research. This should be encouraged especially for complementary medicine where research is not prioritized.

Conclusion

Complementary medicine provides a base for orthodox medicine as it gives preliminary clues to treatment. Hence the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine enhances the transformation of health delivery system in Africa.

dmumwi7@gmail.com

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