Celebrations marking West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) Day have started in Freetown with a Forum for traditional healers formed.
Organized by the Sierra Leone Traditional Healers Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and WAHO, the Forum aimed at creating public awareness on the practice of traditional medicines for the provision of effective health care as well as WAHO’s contribution towards the development of traditional medicines in ECOWAS’ countries.
Addressing a cross section of the Sierra Leone Traditional Healers Association (SLENTHA) at their Calaba Town coordinating office, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s PRO Jonathan Abass Kamara, who deputized WAHO’s liaison officer in Sierra Leone Tommy Tengbeh, said July 9 had been set aside to commemorate WAHO Day in all ECOWAS’ states.
Speaking on the role of traditional healers, Mr Kamara said the main focus was to help promote the sub-region’s health care delivery services, especially traditional medicines which had also been given priority in the West Africa Health Organization’s action plan.
He told his audience that, “WAHO has been working relentlessly to recognize its role and importance in society,” noting that about 85 per cent of people living in the sub region seek medical consultations from traditional healers.
Mr Kamara said the main thrust of the Forum was to create a platform for experience sharing through dialogue and effective collaboration with WAHO and the health ministry.
He informed his audience that WHO, WAHO, and ECOWAS had agreed to incorporate traditional medicines into mainstream health care delivery systems. The focal point for traditional medicines in the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and founder of SLENTHA, Alhaji Babara Turay spoke about positive steps taken by his association and government for traditional healers to gain the recognition they deserved.
He revealed that government, in its drive to make health care accessible and affordable through traditional and modern medicines, had put together mechanisms for the official launching of a national policy on traditional medicines that would be launched soon.
Alhaji Turay commended government and other partners for promoting their cause, and pledged his association’s continued support to the health ministry and WAHO.
The chairman of SLENTHA’s Western Area branch, Pa Adikali Sesay, said their partnership with government, through the health ministry, had been very resourceful, hoping that the launching of a national policy on traditional medicines would yield more dividends for the association and the people of Sierra Leone.
The deputy chairman of the association and chairman for the occasion, Ibrahim Kabia spoke of plans to organize an exhibition of herbal products, and the treatment and healing of patients at the John F. Kennedy School in Freetown.
He disclosed that at a recent exhibition at the Wellington Community Centre they were able to treat over 400 patients.
The deputy chairman on behalf of SLENTHA expressed gratitude and appreciation to WAHO, the Ministry of Health and Government. A traditional birth attendant, Yabom Posseh Kamara, gave the vote of thanks.Traditional songs, drama and poems formed part of the programme.