Africa: Progress Report On Decade Of Traditional Medicine In The African Region



Sixty-first session Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire, 29 August–2 September 2011


Provisional agenda item 17.2





1. Traditional medicine is defined as the total combination of knowledge and practices used in diagnosing, preventing or eliminating physical, mental or social diseases, relying mainly on past experience and observation handed down from generation to generation. Traditional medicine is the first source of health care for about 80% of the population in developing countries. The 1978 Alma- Ata Declaration cited traditional practitioners among the health workers that Primary Health Care (PHC) relies on to respond to the expressed health needs of the community. Since then, the WHO Governing Bodies and countries have adopted resolutions on traditional medicine.


2. In 2000, the WHO Regional Committee for Africa adopted Resolution AF/RC50/R3 on Promoting the Role of Traditional Medicine in Health Systems: A Strategy for the African Region. The principles on which the Regional Strategy is based are: advocacy; government recognition of traditional medicine; institutionalization of traditional medicine; and partnerships. The priority interventions of the Regional Strategy are policy formulation; research promotion; development of local production of traditional medicines including cultivation and conservation of medicinal plants; protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs) and traditional medical knowledge (TMK) and capacity building.


3. The African Union (AU) Summit of Heads of State and Government, in 2001, declared the period 2001–2010 as the Decade of African Traditional Medicine and in 2003 adopted a plan of action for its implementation. In addition, the Summit in 2001 and the Fifty-seventh Regional Committee for Africa in 2007 declared traditional medicine research as a priority. In 2008 the Algiers Declaration on Research for Health recognized the need to promote research in traditional medicine and strengthen health systems, taking into account the sociocultural and environmental situation of the people. In 2008, the Ouagadougou Declaration on Primary Health Care and Health Systems in Africa reiterated the Alma Ata Declaration by calling on countries “to set up sustainable mechanisms for increasing the availability, affordability and accessibility of essential medicines and the use of community-directed approaches and African traditional medicines”, among others.


4. The year 2010 marked a decade since the adoption of the above-mentioned Regional Strategy and the declaration of the African traditional medicine Decade. The AU Conference of African Ministers of Health held in Windhoek from 17 to 21 April 2011 discussed the End-of-Decade Review report on African Traditional Medicine and renewed the Decade from 2011 to 2020. This information document reports on the progress made in implementation of both the Regional Strategy and the Decade’s Plan of Action. Furthermore the document proposes actions for the next steps.


Download the entire report here (.pdf) External link.

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