Traditional Medicine vs Modern Medicine

Although modern medicine is one of the largest industries in the world, it is hard to ignore the fact that the use of herbal remedies and traditional medicine continues to be on the rise in Africa.

In a report conducted by the World Health Organization Africa[1] it indicated that 80% of Africa’s societies entrust on traditional medicine as a major provider of healthcare service especially in the rural Africa, where traditional medicine is the only form of treatment that exists.

However, one third of the population lacks access to necessary medicines and the provision of safe and effective traditional medicine becomes an important way of increasing access to health care services.

Traditional African medicine is a comprehensive discipline which involves indigenous herbalists.

Most of the African medicinal plants are growing interest to Western societies as they are mostly used in the treatments of many diseases and illnesses.

According to the South African Society of Integrative Medicine[2] traditional medicine was the dominant medical system for millions of people in Africa before the establishment of cosmopolitan medicine. But just after the Europeans arrived in Africa a turning point was seen in tradition. And after that it was seen that there is truly a lack of traditional knowledge

Every year around August, different traditional healers from all across Africa come to together to celebrate the importance of African medicine in our societies and the values.

Africa is endowed with many plants that can be used for medicinal purposes to which they have taken full advantage. In fact, out of the approximated 6400 plant species used in tropical Africa, more than 4000 are used as medicinal plants.

South African traditional plant medicines are fascinating with so many colour forms and effects. It is an art to know these and to use them correctly to bring about health and harmony, the aim of all true traditional healers.

African traditional medicine holds within it much wealth on knowing ourselves and how to live correctly and in balance with ourselves and others. This holistic medicine heritage that all cultures have as traditional knowledge; including European, Asian, American, African heritage etc is under threat from culture change and modern society would benefit from embracing holistic medicine so as to not forget our roots to nature and healing.

We live in a fast-paced environment where most people require immediate results, this is why people in urban areas lean more towards modern medicine.  Should we fall sick, we want to have a prescription within hours and medicine to cure us in a day or so – modern medicine offers us exactly that.

[3]Medical Technology Avenue offers the following description for modern medicine:

  • Unlike traditional medicine, modern medicine is based entirely on a scientific approach. It heals by creating synthesized drugs in treating disease.
  • This healing approach involves invasive surgical procedures in addressing several conditions.

Without a doubt, modern medicine has been highly effective in the prevention and treatment of many illnesses.

Follow the #AfricanTraditionalMedicineWeek hashtag for updates.

[1] https://www.afro.who.int/health-topics/traditional-medicine

[2] http://integrativemedicine.co.za/african-traditional-medicine/

[3] http://medicaltechnologyavenue.blogspot.com/2016/05/traditional-medicine-vs-modern-medicine.html