Author Archives: Regional Media and Publications Officer

Interview with Maposa

Prosper Maposa is our personality of December

By Fabrice HUMURA, Regional Media and Publications Officer.

Trust me, the name Prosper MAPOSA is not new within IPSF, particularly in the AfRO region where we saw him take the lead on various platform. He could spared some time with us and AfRO media and publication officer could interview him. So here is how it went!

As we start our interview, tell us who Prosper Maposa is.

Hello I am Prosper Maposa and in short, we could say I am a passionate pharmacist with interests in Global Leadership. I am part of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers community. I have post graduate training in Procurement and Supply and I am currently pursuing further studies in Health Economics at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Everyone has a specific story of how they partook pharmacy, what is yours? Was it out of the blue? Share with us on that

It’s actually a funny story. I had always been a fan of making things (translating ideas into products that people find useful). So I was going to do engineering in South Africa, I got my placement but was not sure if I wanted to spend six years away from home. I then decided to apply to a local university for fun, after getting all the grades, I then decided to apply for pharmacy. Since then, I have always dreamed of inventing a cure to HIV one day.

While in pharmacy school, what was your favorite lecture?

Pharmaceutics was always interesting! It gave me an opportunity to imagine what happens to medicines and what they do to the body. I went further with it and most of my research has been in nanotechnology for which our team received grants and awards.

What leadership positions did you hold while still in school? (Prior IPSF positions)

I used to be the convener of our local student conferences, coordinator of national public health campaigns and I sat on the board of the Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe to represent students. I was also the President of the Zimbabwe Pharmaceutical Students’ Association (ZPSA)

You are known to have led in various IPSF platforms starting from AfRO chairperson, how did you catch the bull by its horns and emerge as leader to such great level?

Well this was one of the most exciting and adventurous period of my life. It was filled with a lot of personal sacrifice for the greater good. I had to save a bit of money and apply for grants and support. This allowed me to travel for conferences, workshops and trainings and presented a platform for me to network with pharmacy leaders globally. In IPSF I managed to learn the official documents and leapfrog for changes that ensured the empowerment of our region. My journey in IPSF started with me being a Contact Person and Official Delegate for Zimbabwe, I was then elected to the position of AfRO Secretary then AfRO Chairperson then IPSF Vice President then IPSF Advisor and lastly, I worked tirelessly with the team that brought the IPSF World Congress to AfRO for the first time in over two decades.

Pharmacy is a demanding career which needs complete dedication, sometimes while studying. How did you manage leadership and studies?

I owe most of the gratitude to the soft skills trainings that I got whilst I was in IPSF. It is not easy as I sit in a couple of boards, volunteer for the profession, have a full time job and also go to school. The key is self discipline and learning the honest art of saying no when you genuinely know that you can’t deliver on certain opportunities.

This year we are celebrating 10 years of AfRO existence, how do you rate AfRO’s performance so far?

AfRO has grown and evolved and I am proud of the achievements the subsequent teams have been carrying forward. I hope we keep the momentum as a region and develop more sustainable and repeatable projects with committed partners.

Could you Share with me some of the great memories you had while you were chairperson?

Great memories were the times I met old friends and also the making of news ones at events. I am proud as I look back at people who I saw being new to IPSF, those I have personally worked with and are also on their way to becoming iconic leaders in the industry and globally. I have worked with a couple of executive committees and AfRO Region Committee, and a lot of young pharmacists have become family! We go to each other’s weddings etc. Becoming a global citizen is amazing.

You have been travelling in many countries meeting different people from all works of life, how have you been seeing the Pharmacy career in terms of opportunities and improved practice?

I think travelling is important for exposure however it is what you do with the exposure that matters more. The profession has been evolving and the need to integrate emerging technologies is even critical in Africa to maximize use of the available resources. Opportunities are there but I would like to pose a challenge so that we can create more of them through innovative thinking.

What advice can you offer to young upcoming pharmacy professionals?

The future is bright and it needs for you to start positioning yourself now. Volunteer and learn, try new things, don’t wait to become a professional start now because your life is not a rehearsal it is the real thing.

We are almost done with our conversation, but before departing I’d love to hear your parting message.

Let us enjoy the world whilst making it a better place. Always remember that we owe it to the future generations. If you and I are committed in what we do success is imminent through learning, collaborating and innovating.

Thank you Maposa for your time and great insights.

Thank you!

A Poem

A Poem

By Raphael Raphael

And Bacteria says to antibiotics...
You hit me once and killed me
Yet I resurrected
You hit me again this time I fainted
Yet I survived
You hit me once more
I staggered and fell
Yet I healed
You come at me once again
But this time I was strong
I got used to what you do to me
I loved the pain
I have become resistant



Raphael Raphael is a student at Igbinedion University, Okada.




By Alegbe, Precious Tamaralayefa 

Antimicrobial resistance according to World Health Organization(WHO) is the ability of  micro-organisms(like bacteria, viruses, and some parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antimalarials, antivirals) from working against it. As a result, standard treatments become ineffective, infections persist and spread.


Firstly, what do we say antimicrobials are?
They are substances that are capable, even in high dilution, of killing or inhibiting the growth of micro-organisms. They may be subdivided into Antibiotics which are derived from the growth of micro-organisms (which include; Streptomycin, Cephalexin, Erythromycin, Amoxycilin, Candicidin, Polymycin, Tetracycline, etc.) and Chemotherapeutic Substances which are synthetic agents not occurring naturally(which include; Clotrimazole, Metronidazole, Miconazole, etc.)


Secondly, how do we say AMR occurs and what are the causes?
AMR occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections.

The spread of AMR is a growing problem across the world and a serious threat to patients safety.

The overuse of antibiotics is a contributing factor to AMR.

The misuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, also accelerates AMR.

Also Note that

  • AMR kills- this is due to the non response of the body to treatment.
  • AMR hinders the control of infectious diseases.
  • AMR increases the cost of health care.
  • Poor infection control practices encourage the spread of AMR.



  • Antibiotics should be prescribed only on the clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections.
  • Antibiotics and other antimicrobials should be stored in a dry, clean and well ventilated area at room temperature between 15°C-25°C to prevent degradation of antibiotics which is also a contributing factor of AMR.
  • Pharmacists should cultivate the habit of patient-counselling, for this will immensely increase patient-compliance. Thereby, avoiding/preventing the abuse, misuse and overuse of antibiotics.
  • Public awareness should be made across the community pharmacies and hospital pharmacies in ways of posters, bills and other promotional materials to enlighten the general public on the consequences of AMR.

Pharmacy students also have roles to play in the tackling of AMR.
The major role we can play is by creating public awareness in every way possible, which may be by;
• Organizing campaigns and reaching out to youths, pregnant women, etc. to  enlighten them on the proper use of antibiotics and also the dangers on the abuse, misuse and overuse of antibiotics.

  • Organizing online campaigns also, which will help in the spread of AMR gospel on every social media platform.


  • Do not use antibiotics without any clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections.
  • Always seek professional advice before taking antibiotics and other antimicrobials. Stop self-medication.
  • Use antibiotics as prescribed, do not take them for no reason.
  • Always complete an antibiotics dosage. Incomplete doses or under dose may also cause AMR.

Alegbe, Precious Tamaralayefa is a student from Igbinedion University, Okada.



Antimicrobial Resistance: One of the Major Public Health Issues

Antimicrobial Resistance: One of the Major Public Health Issues

By Adebisi Yusuff Adebayo

Development of resistance against antimicrobial agents is known to be one of the greatest global public health problems of the twenty-first century. According to The Center for Diseases Control (CDC), drug resistance (AMR) is the 2nd   most expressive global health threat in 2014. Irrational use of antimicrobials provides advantageous conditions for resistant microbes to spread and also to thrive and replicate.

A recent report was made by Economist Jim O' Neil where he suggested that the cost of antimicrobials globally due to resistance could lead to loss of 10,000,000 lives a year by 2050 and cost one hundred trillion USD annually.

Antimicrobial resistance is one of the major global public health problems. The problem is becoming serious since most of the antimicrobials are already in their last line of use. Drugs are known to improve the quality of lives and ensure increase in life span of patients which further stresses the need to address antimicrobial resistance in healthcare.
Antimicrobial resistance has become a great problem evident in increase in death rate, higher healthcare cost and prolonged hospital stay due to the fact that microbes are developing resistance to the drugs which have once been proven to show therapeutic actions.

This can affect anyone, in any country and of any age. There are a lot of factors that contribute to this. Antimicrobial resistances are seriously on a war path and obviously have gained edge. Their actions are evidently propelling the development of resistance to medicinal agents.

Rampant inappropriate use of antibiotics among the population and livestock by the farmers, circulation of counterfeit drugs and substandard prescriptions together with poor diagnosis, or lack of it are adding fuel to the already fired path of resistance.

In various regions of the world, antibiotics can be purchased over the counter with little or no medical advice by most of patent medicine dealers basically due to lack of knowledge.
African countries have high load of infectious diseases (e.g. the air and water-borne diseases) especially the Sub Saharan region of Africa among its population and the use of medicinal agents with antimicrobial effects especially antibiotics has been widely used to treat various infections.

A growing number of infections such as gonorrhea, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, etc. are becoming difficult to treat. Indiscriminate and irrational use of antibiotics has led to bacteria developing resistance against the drugs. Antimicrobial resistance indeed raises concern on the long term sustainable effectiveness of most antibiotics used to treat various infectious diseases, it's potential impact on the country's health and how it affects the global health and economy at large.
Antibiotics resistance thrive more in areas where antibiotics can be purchased for animal or human use without a prescription. This made the emergence and spread of resistance worse. Also, in countries that do not have or do not strictly follow the standard treatment guidelines, irrational use of antibiotics is also rampant. Without urgent action, minor injuries and common infections will claim more lives in years to come which is termed post-antibiotics era.

Antibiotics resistance also poses modern medicine at risk since organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics. To prevent and control the spread of antibiotic resistance, we all have roles to play ranging from individuals, policy makers, health professionals, healthcare industry to the agricultural sector.
As an individual, we have major role to play in curtailing this threat by ensuring that we only use antibiotics when prescribed by a certified healthcare professional, avoiding overuse of antibiotics, never sharing antibiotics with friends or family members, following the advice given by healthcare professionals on the use of antibiotics, practicing regular hand washing, preparing food under hygienic condition, practicing safe sex and being vaccinated up to date.

The role that needs to be played by the policy maker in controlling antibiotic resistance cannot be overemphasized. Policy makers should ensure robust nation plan, improve antibiotic-resistant infections surveillance, make information available about antibiotic resistance, regulate and ensure appropriate medicine use and disposal and also strengthen policies, programmes and implementation of infection and control measures.
Health professionals can also help prevent infections by ensuring their hands, instruments, and environments are clean. They should only prescribe and dispense antibiotics when they are needed, according to current standard treatment guidelines. They should endeavor to report antibiotic-resistant infections to surveillance teams and also talk to their patients about how to take antibiotics correctly, antibiotic resistance and the dangers of misuse. Healthcare professionals should also talk to their patients about preventing infections (for example, vaccination, hand washing, safer sex, and covering nose and mouth when sneezing). Another way to prevent and control the spread of antibiotics resistance is by investing in research and development of new antibiotics, vaccines, diagnostics and other tools by the healthcare industry.

The Agriculture sector is also a major area to be addressed in order to curtail and control the spread of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics should be given only to animals under veterinary supervision; not using antibiotics for growth promotion or to prevent diseases. Animals should be vaccinated to reduce the need for antibiotics and use alternatives to antibiotics when available. Promote and apply good practices at all steps of production and processing of foods from animal and plant sources. Improve biosecurity on farms and prevent infections through improved hygiene and animal welfare.


Adebisi Yusuff Adebayo is a student of University of Ibadan,Ibadan Nigeria and in charge of publicity of 7th IPSF African Pharmaceutical symposium


Danny Mutembe is our personality of the month

Danny Mutembe is our personality of the month

By Fabrice HUMURA, Regional Media and Publications Officer.

The name Danny Mutembe is not strange to the ears of pharmacists - mostly in Rwanda, for having an important role in revamping the profession and for his instrumental and supportive interventions. But Danny is not as famous as his community pharmacy, known as “Pharmacie conseil” which gave birth to other numerous branches.

Danny Mutembe ( on the left side) (Courtesy Photo)

I arrived at his working place a few minutes after 9am and, in the moment that I entered in his office, I was struck by how welcoming he was and the keen attention he gave me despite his demanding schedule.

After we exchanged our pleasantries, it was my turn to start asking questions.

Q:  Tell us who is Danny Mutembe and his personal background.

Thank you! As you mentioned, my name is Danny Mutembe and I’m a pharmacist specialised in pharmaceutical engineering and industrial technologies.  I was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where I started my studies in a French-speaking school called Moamba. Later, I’ve moved to Rwanda, where I completed my secondary school prior to pursuing my university studies.

Q: It sounds like you’ve started moving at an early age.   

Oh yes, right after completing my secondary studies, I went for my Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. It was in India, and later I further pursued my studies to receive a Masters in pharmaceutical production in Belgium. I was fortunate to be exposed to numerous technologies in different parts of our continent and even in various places of the world.

Q: In what moment did you get that passion for pharmacy and how did it come to pass?  

Actually, from a young age, I loved so much to dissect animals and I had consistently watched TV  biology programs with my entire attention. In fact, I had a dream of becoming a cardiologist or a neurologist. However, choosing pharmacy ended up being a very diplomatic approach. My older sister, who is a medical doctor, advised me not to become a doctor. She said: “You see that we already have one doctor in the family, so it would not be fair if you became a doctor too. Let’s have a diversity of health professionals in the family. It would be better if you opt for pharmacy.” The advice was embraced by my father who was a pharmacist too, so he wanted to have one of his children doing the same as him. So, the choice for pharmacy was an overnight thinking. Then I went to India.

Q: So, after your studies, you’ve immediately come to community pharmacy or you’ve had other things to do?  

After my studies in India, I went immediately to community pharmacy, where I learned the best practice in the field. This was in 2003.

Q: Did you join an existing pharmacy or did you immediately start one on your own?

I joined my family business, the Pharmacie Conseil  when I was 19 years old. The people I’ve met were experienced and so I was able to learn things from them. Pharmacie Conseil was opened in Kinshasa in 1983. It was my father who established it right after leaving Hospital of Kinshasa, where he was the chief pharmacist. From 1986, Pharmacie Conseil was transferred to Rwanda.

Q: How old were you when you started pharmaceutical practice?

I was 23 years old. I’ve met intern pharmacists of my age and I met senior pharmacists.

Q: Being responsible at such a young age wasn’t that easy, I guess?

Oh sure, it was demanding at certain points. I started with a team of senior professionals, more experienced and resistant to change. I came up with new ideas and ways of doing things but they were not quick to adopt change, whatever I was coming up with it was either questioned or doubted as I was younger in the profession. I’ll give you an example. We used to make orders of medicines from abroad using faxes and phone calls which was extremely expensive so I brought a computer. It was not new then, but they had not yet started using e-mails and PDF files. They resisted to it but later on admitted to adopt it as it made the daily work more smooth and effective. After introducing this new idea, co-workers started gaining trust in me. I remember they started asking me what was new in the world, and I was viewed as someone with good, new ideas. When you are young, it is normal to have innovative ideas. In school you feel you want to change the world and as soon as you leave school, you think everybody in the world needs your help. I felt that it was paramount for me being there.

Q: From the time you have been in the profession, what are your outstanding achievements which you always feel proud of?

First of all, I’ll start with what I saw from my father and my seniors. Frankly speaking they were successful, but they felt contented with what they had and reluctant to go to another level.  I came with the idea of expanding and growing beyond what we had. Fortunately, we grew from one community pharmacy we used to have, to other ones.

Q: You don’t solely work in community pharmacy; tell us how you came to represent your fellows at various decision-making platforms?

It started when I realized a bad image of pharmacists existed, for example, that we are here to make money. We lacked someone who would act as spokesperson to redefine our roles. I kept emphasizing that we are the people who help the community. We are not drug sellers as many notoriously think. By then I realized that the more I was involved, the more I got to be heard and started serving in public sectors including Ministry of Health, among others.

Q: What are the gaps that you still see in the pharmacy profession?

We don’t communicate enough in our sector. We tend to be silent on what is said about us, about our profession, so people don’t fully understand what pharmacists are really worth. As in other developed countries, a pharmacist is the bridge between healthcare professionals but is also used as a valuable professional because pharmacists are quickly approached by the people. Some of them are satisfied with counseling provided by pharmacists on non-communicable diseases, tuberculosis, AIDS and so on. We’re also trained to administer vaccines and to give injections in a certain manner. For instance, the vaccination for flu. A pharmacist is not a robot behind the counter saying yes or no to what has been prescribed but he is the custodian of medicines. He is the most knowledgeable person when it comes to pharmacology and that is a subject paramount in the entire medicine. So I think pharmacist have been set aside because they chose to let this happen.

Q: Are you satisfied with where you are? Or you still have other amazing things you feel you have not achieved yet?  

To tell you the truth - I'm not. I’m always reminded that the good we have and do, should not bar us from the best we could and are capable of doing. The pharmacy sector in our country is the least developed as we are not producers yet, we solely import from other countries. I don’t think that this happened because they are smarter than us, but it’s because they have taken the lead. They started small by compounding. But here very few pharmacists do compounding, we are focusing on trending which is different from other countries. Other people see pharmacy as a gateway to production. This is what should happen and it has to start from us - not from other people.

Q: What is your message to young upcoming pharmacists, especially those who want to practice community pharmacy.  

The young ones are coming at the right time and everything is already set -  technology is at its peak, people communicate easily in seconds with high speed of high volumes of shared information. What they have to do is to think big and don’t limit themselves based on what others have done. We should not look at the work accomplished by a colleague pharmacist as the maximum that can be done. We should consider how to do it better and smarter. We are not doing even a 10th of what we are supposed to be doing. Of course, our patients will hold us accountable as they expect to be supplied with high-quality, affordable medicines, dispensed with care.  We are currently doing  quite the opposite as medicines are increasingly becoming more expensive and of course those medicines are running out on a daily basis in our hospitals.  Another advice to young people is to see a fellow pharmacist as a colleague. We are not competitors even in community pharmacy, we are working for the betterment of our profession and the end result can be seen on our people. Let’s see how we can work together, support each other, form skills and pass them on to younger colleagues. Dream big, only the sky is the limit and I am quite sure that the young generation will do better than us.

Q: What is you parting message?

I am impressed with the younger generations, as they are more knowledgeable and they have that hunger to do great things. I hope that we will be there for them in a way they can reach their own capacity.

However, young people should put in mind that

The world belongs to the ones who wake up early,

To the ones who actually go and get it,

To the ones who don’t sit back and chill,

But to those who work hard,

So just make it happen!

Thanks Danny for talking to us.

You are welcome. It was great talking with you


         Danny Mutembe (on the right side) with Regional Media and publications officer after interview.

Rwandan Pharmacy students in a public health campaign

By Fabrice HUMURA

Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students (RPSA) conducted the first ever health camp in Kayonza district under the theme: INCLUSIVE ENGAGMENT TO A HEALTHY LIFE. Kayonza district is in the eastern province of Rwanda about 91.9 km from the capital Kigali. If you have been following the associations’ Public health activities, you may realize that the campaign was not far different from other previous ones where people were screened and counseled on blood pressure, blood glucose and body mass index.

From 28th July to 1st August, pharmacy students under the umbrella of RPSA embarked on the unprecedented public health campaign dubbed “Health Camp”. This was designed primarily to approach citizens in remote areas of the country where most of them have no clue on their health status. They were first and foremost educated on different subject such as nutrition, non-communicable diseases, hygiene and water sanitation to name just a few.

The eminent non-governmental health organization, Partners In Health got interested with the initiative and came to grace the event by sponsoring the health camp not solely this one but as well to make it a continuous event in upcoming years in various places of the country.

The RPSA President Mr Alphonse Mbarushimana attests that the camp went beyond expectations as preparations as well as execution were both impeccable. He said: “Citizens in Kayonza district were happy as most of them didn’t know how to keep their body healthy. We found as well some critical scenarios of high blood pressure where we referred such cases at hospitals.”

Throughout the health camp which took place in various sites of Kayonza district, more than 650 citizens were screened and received medical counseling in accordance with their results. Like other previous campaigns run by association, the health camp was in partnership with Rwanda Diabetic Association which work closely in terms of training and aid at the field.

Pharmacy students measuring Blood pressure

One of pharmacy student Enock Twizerimana who was volunteering in this event affirmed that the health camp gave him an opportunity to explain the role of pharmacist which is wrongly understood in society. “This event redefined the role of pharmacist where most still think that pharmacist’ role is limited to dispensing medications. While helping the people we kept on explaining that a pharmacist like any other healthcare provider, primarily concerned with the health of people by providing the necessary advice to keep them healthier.”

Non-communicable diseases are on the rise around the globe and dismally mostly in developing countries people live with such diseases unknowingly. With these kinds of awareness especially in rural areas where most people are illiterate and uninterested for regular checkups, public health campaigns are of great impact.

Mr. Fabrice is a Pharmacy Student at University of Rwanda.
College of Medicine and Health sciences.
Twitter: @fhumura

IPSF AfRO anti- skin bleaching campaign

By Geofrey Beigana

Lightening the skin to become fairer seems to be a common practice among dark skinned populations globally. According to the Question & Answer website, Quora; low self-esteem, racism, societal pressure are some of the reasons why people bleach their skin. Societal pressure is said to come from women and not men. Fair-skinned individuals in society tend to be regarded as better looking, beautiful or handsome.

Although there is proven evidence on dangers of skin bleaching, many people especially women in Africa still continues to use skin lightening products. Some of the dangers of skin bleaching includes; increased risk of skin cancer, acne, dermatitis, etc. The World Health Organisation estimates that nearly 77% of Nigerian women uses skin lightening products.

It’s against this backdrop that the IPSF African Regional Office (AfRO) through its Regional Projects Office, has started a public health campaign against skin bleaching. The campaign dab “Beauty Beyond Colour” aims to sensitise the public on the dangers of skin bleaching, how to identify bleaching chemicals and to have confidence in their skin colour. The campaign will be conducted on social media and will feature voices from AfRO members on skin bleaching.

Look out for these chemicals in cosmetic products such that you don’t use them unknowingly.

What is skin bleaching?

Skin bleaching is the intentional use of chemical substances to lighten the skin tone /complexion by reducing the amount of melanin present in the skin. Melanin produced by the cells in the skin known as melanocytes is the protein responsible for the dark/tanned complexion. The variation of skin colours among people is mostly due to variation of the content of melanin in the skin.  Generally, dark skinned people produce more melanin than white people. Melanin has multiple advantages in the skin including giving the skin its colour and protecting the skin from the damaging effect of sun rays.

The writer is the Regional Projects Officer of IPSF African Regional Office.


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.


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.

Transformation of health delivery systems in Africa with the integration of orthodox and complementary medicine

By Ekpoh Mfonobong
PANS, Nigeria

Africa has about 54 countries divided into regions: North Africa, Sahel, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. The continent’s continuing struggle with communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB), parasitic diseases and poor primary and obstetric care has been a major factor in stalling the development and extension of healthcare services in African countries at even the most basic level (Janssen 2011). The healthcare delivery system has a role to play in Africa’s experience of disproportionate burden of poverty, disease, and death with appalling disparities within and between countries (Kaseje 2006).

Health is an integral part of life and its expedient that Africa’s healthcare system is re-assessed for viability. Orthodox medicine in its own sense, trains general medical practitioners to comprehensively treat the whole patient and to refer to specialists only when patients present ailments exceeding the knowledge and skills of the practitioner. Moreover, consumer-led demands for alternative therapies allow many people to seek care from a wide variety of traditions, each of which has its own anecdotal claims of success (Touyz 2012). Hence, integration of orthodox medicine with complementary medicine would be valuable.

Africa is a continent blessed with vast herbs whose medicinal value knowledge is handed down through generations, alongside the benefits of alternative medicine practices such as acupuncture, biofeedback etc. Previously, traditional medicine was presumed to be dangerous and produce side effects, which would be treated by orthodox medicine or lead to deterioration of the patient’s health. However, only decoctions, herbal products sourced from inappropriate centers, or products used in unidentified disease conditions and with insufficient advice on therapy regimen result in such scenarios (Asare 2016). Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) and different excipients are obtained from nature. Correcting the wrong notions of complementary medicine, and accepting it the way orthodox medicine has ‘won the heart’ of most practitioners, would make appropriate integration less challenging.

More products from nature are being produced and marketed, with claims to be effective in treatment of various diseases, eg Gingko biloba proven to benefit brain function; moringa seeds, leaves and extracts proven to contain phytochemicals beneficial to health. Also, acupuncture has been effective in stress management. For better healthcare systems, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) of orthodox medicine by various pharmaceutical companies are monitored timely. Similarly, for improved desired outcomes on patients’ quality of life, SOPs of herbal medicines should be regulated too, to prevent interference with the pharmacology of orthodox medicine. To spike interest in future healthcare professionals, alternative medicine should be taken more seriously in our institutions, with well-balanced tutoring on its basics and the benefits of its integration. Also, herbalists and other professionals of complementary medicine should become members of the healthcare team. Moreover, a balance in the basic knowledge of both medicines is necessary for these professionals.

These natural products and techniques in combination with orthodox medicine would speed up recovery, boost health and general immunity, increase appreciation of the blessings of nature and help reassess the cost of wellbeing in order to accommodate all strata of the economy. Also, standardized complementary healthcare would provide affordable healthcare for vulnerable groups as most times patients purchase medicines at high cost compared to their standard of living.

Health must be viewed as a central element of productivity rather than as an unproductive consumer of public budgets (Kaseje 2006). The ‘tides’ in healthcare demands of Africans are changing, our system is at a turning point, thus, all hands must be on deck as this course is an all-encompassing one.


  1. A Presentation on ‘Healthcare in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and an Emerging Model for Improvement’ by Dan Kaseje, Great Lakes University of Kisumu, November 2006.
  2. An Article on ‘Herbal Medicine vs Orthodox Medicine, The Wrong Attitude’ by Bentil Asare, 2016.
  3. Louis ZG Touyz (2012). Alternative and Orthodox Medicine and the “ODD” Principle. Curr Oncol.; 19(02); 64-65
  4. The Future of Healthcare in Africa. A Report from the Economic Intelligence Unit sponsored by Janssen, 2011.


Integration of orthodox and complementary medicine: China has done it, Africa can do it too!

By Peris Thuo
KEPhSA, Kenya

Africa, My Motherland! She has evolved over the years from the exclusive use of traditional to embracing modern medicine. The world is watching as our continent strives to live up to its full potential in areas such as healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Health care delivery systems involve structured organizations of people, institutions and resources to ensure that the health needs of a target population are met. This remains to be an enormous challenge in Africa in areas such as leadership, governance, financing and accountability. The international finance corporation estimates that 25 to 30 billion US dollars are needed over the next decade to meet healthcare demand in Africa.

Complementary medicine refers to the health practice that approaches knowledge and beliefs incorporating plant, animal, mineral-based and spiritual therapy. These are either applied alone or in combination in diagnosis, disease prevention and maintenance of well being. We are now at a time where history is repeating itself and many patients are opting for complementary medicine. This is due to frustration for lack of cures for chronic diseases, affordability and accessibility. In addition, patients feel that they have more control over management of their treatment when using alternative treatment options and alternative medicine is viewed as safer than conventional medicine.

Effective incorporation of complementary medicine to health care systems would require proper policy and regulation. This is a big challenge in my country Kenya as it is estimated that nine in ten herbalists are fake. Most of these fake herbalists are based in our capital, Nairobi. They exploit vulnerable and gullible patients, mainly those suffering from chronic illness for commercial gain. This has contributed to the lack of faith in complementary medicine by the general public.

There is need for establishment of trust between health researchers and the genuine herbalists in order to successfully achieve this. Genuine herbalists are mainly based in the village. They are very skeptical about sharing their formulas with researchers for fear of exploitation. An ancestral aspect is also involved as most of these formulas have been passed from generation to generation. They fear that commercialization would not appease the ancestors. Trust has to be established between the two parties through establishment of proper policies to ensure that the genuine herbalist is protected.

Kenyatta National Teaching and Referral Hospital, Nairobi is the biggest of its kind in East and Central Africa. Research was conducted in the hospital to analyze the number of patients who use complementary medicine in addition to modern medicine. It was found that a number of inpatients would take their complementary medicine at night after the nurses had administered prescribed drugs and left the wards. Majority had not informed the physician that they were on these drugs. Reasons cited were: the physicians never asked, they would not understand, they would disapprove and the overall relationship between the physician and the patient would be affected.

Complementary medicine cannot be successfully incorporated if the physicians themselves have no faith in it. There is need for continuous medical education about the benefits of complementary medicine. Regulation of these medicines is crucial in ensuring that physicians can readily prescribe them to patients without hesitation.

Funding of complementary medicine research is mandatory. It is not possible to incorporate it to healthcare delivery systems unless all the necessary research and trials have been carried out. New delivery systems ought to be developed. A change in mindset is needed.

China has done it, Africa can do it too!