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Ethnomedicine and/or Ethnoveterinary medicine is a growing area of research. More and more scientists, medical and/or veterinary practitioners, field workers in developing countries, and livestock owners are becoming interested in medicinal plants. A simplistic definition for ethnomedicine is: local or indigenous knowledge and methods for caring for, healing, and managing human lives and livestock. This includes social practices and ways in which livestock are incorporated into farming systems A conference on ethnoveterinary practices for west and central Africa was held in Kaduna between 14th-16th August recently (Gefu et al. 2000). The Workshop documents the local knowledge systems and technology on the use of plant and animal genetic resouirces of pastoral and livestock producing communities in Africa. Practices range from medicinal plants to the use of plants to improve, for instance, shelf life, taste or palatability of animal produce. A similar one was held earlier in Nairobi (ILRI and IT Kenya, 1997). A Workshop on Bioprospecting, Marketing and Benefit sharing at the local level in west Africa was organised by he Commonwelath Science Council in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria was held in Jos on the 11th – 15th June, 2001. The Workshop after extensive deliberations on papers presented adopted among other resolutions that there is:
    • Need for the integration of traditional medicine practitioners into the healthcare delivery systems.
    • Need for exchange of information through networking both at national, regional and international levels.
    • Traditional Medicine Practitioners should be registered as an association with the appropriate authority at the state/regional/provincial/national levels.
    • Collaboration and constant information flow between traditional medicine practitioners and orthodox medical practitioners should be enhanced;
    • Traditional medicine practitioners must be trained, an essential component of the training being standardization for safety and quality; The DRPU has been involved in the training of herbalists at the National and Local Government levels (see Annual Report DRPU, August 2001).
    • Gaps that exist in research and development and communities on one hand and large-scale industries production of plant product on the other hand must be bridged through commercial oriented research. The CSC supported my research visit to ILRI between October 1 and November 5, 2000
      1. (see Adewunmi, C. O. (2000). Ethnoveterinary medicine: Screening of African medicinal plants for trypanocidal activity. Report Submitted to Commonwealth Science Council, London, November 2000), 18 pages.
      2. Adewunmi, C. O., J. M. Agbedahunsi, A.C. Adebajo, A.J. Aladesanmi, N. Murphy and J. Wando (2001). Ethnoveterinary medicine: Screening of African medicinal plants for trypanocidal activity.. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 77, 19-24)
    • Countries should designate competent National Authority or National Focal Point to co-ordinate the activities of these initiative. This website based at the DRPU will contribute to the activities of this initiative. The university has the capacity to play the role of the National focal point to coordinate the activities of this initiative. Africa is endowed with an enormous diversity of animals and plants, both domesticated and wild, and an impressive variety of habitats and ecosystems. This African heritage sustains the food, medicinal, clothing, shelter, spiritual, recreational, and other needs of most of Africa's population. This biodiversity also ensures the essential ecological functions on which life depends, including a steady supply of clean water, nutrient cycling, and soil maintenance. It is the treasure house from which future food needs, cures for deadly diseases, and elements for knowledge and technology will be found. There is a need for a network that will involve farmers, herbalists and all those interested in natural products, and herbs used for the health care of animals and man. It should also take care of people looking for information on traditional methods of health care especially in Africa. Plants have provided the basis for traditional treatment for different types of diseases and still offer an enormous potential source of new chemotherapeutic agents. Plants also produce a vast array of diverse chemical substances and there is therefore, a justification for the creation of a Network to coordinate efforts in this direction. The Network will address complimentary efforts by the indigenous communities in the management of human and animal diseases.
 

Contact:
webmaster@africanethnomedicines.net

 


Editors-in-Chief:
*C. O. Adewunmi,
Drug Research & Production Unit,
Faculty of Pharmacy, Ile-Ife.

*J. A. O. Ojewole


 

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