Speech By Pharm. Dr. Samuel Kow Donkoh, President Of The Pharmaceutical Society Of Ghana on the Topic  “The Pharmacist’s Perspective On Developing Sustainable Integrative Healthcare In Ghana” at the 2nd Oku Ampofo Memorial International Conference At The British Council Auditorium, Accra, held on 7th November 2023

Mr. Chairman, Speakers, Distinguished Invited Guests, Researchers, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed heart-warming to stand before you today as a pharmacist and President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH), speaking on the topic of “The Pharmacist’s Perspective on Developing Sustainable Integrative Healthcare in Ghana.” I would like to extend my gratitude to the Center for Plant Medicine for organizing this important conference, and for choosing such a pertinent theme, “Herbal Medicine Research: A Panacea for Economic Transformation.”

In Ghana, as in many other parts of the world, we are at a crucial juncture where the integration of herbal medicine and conventional or orthodox medical practice is not only a necessity but also an opportunity for sustainable healthcare and economic transformation. As pharmacists, we play a pivotal role in this transformation, and it is essential for us to understand our role in advancing integrative healthcare.

  1. Bridging Traditional and Modern Medicine

To develop a sustainable integrative healthcare system in Ghana, we must first recognize the rich history and cultural significance of traditional herbal medicine in our country. Our ancestors have relied on the knowledge and practices of herbal medicine for generations, and these remedies are deeply rooted in our culture. About 60%–70% of the Ghanaian population depends on traditional medicine (largely herbal medicine) for their primary healthcare needs in the management of both communicable and noncommunicable diseases (Mintah et al., 2022).

As pharmacists, we need to work collaboratively with herbalists and traditional healers to bridge the gap between traditional and modern medicine. By respecting and validating the effectiveness of certain herbal remedies, we can enhance patient care and trust in our healthcare system.

  1. Research and Evidence-Based Practice

A key aspect of building integrative healthcare is to prioritize research in herbal medicine. We must encourage and support ongoing research in herbal medicine to ensure the safety, efficacy, and quality of herbal products. Collaborations between pharmacists, medical doctors, researchers, and traditional practitioners can lead to the development of evidence-based guidelines for the integration of herbal medicines into the healthcare system. This will not only improve patient outcomes but also bolster the economic potential of herbal medicine through exports and local production.

  1. Regulatory Framework

One of the primary challenges we face is the lack of a comprehensive regulatory framework for herbal medicines in Ghana. As pharmacists, we must advocate for the development and implementation of a regulatory system that ensures the safety, quality, and efficacy of herbal products. Such a framework will instill confidence in both healthcare providers and patients, and create opportunities for responsible herbal medicine businesses to thrive.

  1. Education and Training

Pharmacists are uniquely positioned to provide accurate information to patients about the use of herbal medicines and potential interactions with conventional pharmaceuticals. Education and training programs should be developed to equip pharmacists with the necessary knowledge and skills to advise patients on the safe use of herbal remedies. This will help ensure that integrative healthcare is delivered responsibly and effectively.

  1. Public Awareness and Collaboration

Building a sustainable integrative healthcare system requires active collaboration between healthcare professionals, government agencies, and the private sector. Pharmacists should take the lead in public awareness campaigns to educate the population about the potential benefits and risks of herbal medicine. Working in tandem with other stakeholders, we can foster a supportive environment for the growth of herbal medicine research and development.

In conclusion, the development of sustainable integrative healthcare in Ghana is a multifaceted endeavor that requires commitment, collaboration, and a shared vision. As pharmacists, we have a crucial role to play in this process. Let us work together to bridge the gap between traditional and modern medicine, prioritize research, establish a regulatory framework, educate ourselves and the public, and actively collaborate with all stakeholders. By doing so, we can harness the potential of herbal medicine to not only transform our healthcare system but also contribute to economic growth in Ghana.

Thank you for your attention, and I look forward to fruitful discussions and collaborations during this conference.