The Research Institute of Traditional and Alternative Medicine (RITAM) will soon be training herbal practitioners

According to its Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr Johnson Idowu, it is to achieve training programme in human resources at all levels of the national health care system.

He said the institute has developed three categories of training curriculum for good manufacturing practice (GMP), professional and academic validation.

"The GMP is in collaboration with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Lagos zone, while the second is a continuous professional development training for RITAM consultants regarding its associate/ fellowship membership. The third is a certificate programme.

"In the industry, there are about 2000 registered National Association of Natural Medicine Practitioner (NANTMP) members in the Southwest alone as prospective workers at the primary health care (PHC) system," he said.

Idowu said the practitioners are encouraged and required to have proper training in traditional and conventional medicine, saying the training will affect the quality, safety and efficacy of treatment.

"It is after achieving these steps that we can beat our chest and say 'no traditional medicine practice, no PHC'. This will also remove the stigma placed on our practice that we are illitrates by orthodox medicine practitioners," he added.

Idowu said practitioners need to have a two-year internship to be able to understand the core aspect of treatment in Teaching and General Hospital. He added that the opportunity is also open to interested adults who have retired but love to be involved in health care delivery matters. They will be able to have a career in the practice of modern traditional medicare within their immediate community, he added.

He said conventional medical practitioner such as medical doctors, nurses and medical laboratory scientists, among others, can also receive the training. "Also, registered practitioners with the Lagos State Traditional Medicine Board (LSTMB) and NANTMP or other recognised bodies can register for the programme too," he said.

The goals and objectives of the institute, he said, was develop practitioner so that they can be useful in health care system. "The institute will register qualified applicants as associate or trainee on payment of a prescribed fee. The part-time training would be organised for associate members covering between three to six months, during which they will acquire basic skills in diagnosing common diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, anaemia and malaria. "They will also be taught how to use proven effective herbal remedies of some ailments. "Also, they will be tutored on the practice of traditional medicine at community basis," he added.

On completion of training, full associate members would be equipped to set up practices in their community or take up appointment at the federal PHC facilities across the country.

"Associate members in practice would have access to herbal products that have be certified and approved by the institutes at discounted prices. Trainees would be exposed to the treatment of more serious health issues such as cancers, prostate, leukemia and breast cancer. Other areas to be covered are HIV and AIDS, fibroid. Senior practitioner would be available to handle these health issues as a team within the head office of RITAM," Idowu said.