Traditional medicine refers to the knowledge, skills and practises based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.
Traditional medicine is often termed alternative or complementary medicine in many countries. Herbal treatments are the most popular form of traditional medicine and 70% to 80% of the Region has used a form as primary health care.
One third of the population lacks access to essential medicines and the provision of safe and effective traditional and alternative remedies could become an important way of increasing access to health care services.
Tried and tested methods and products:
- Acupuncture has been proven effective in relieving a variety of pain disorders, high blood pressure, depression and morning sickness. It can also alleviate postoperative pain and adverse reactions to chemotherapy.
- The Chinese herb Artemisia annua has been found to be effective against resistant malaria and could create a breakthrough in preventing almost 1 million deaths annually.
- In South Africa, the plant Sutherlandia microphylla is being studied for use in HIV patients. The plant may increase energy, appetite and body mass in people living with HIV.