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Opinion: 'Agenda 111: Add herbal, naturopathic practice' by Prof Obu & Aggrey-Bluwey

By Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, PhD & Lawrencia Aggrey-Bluwey
Agenda 111
Agenda 111
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As healthcare policy researchers, we find the government’s Agenda 111 a good policy to enhance healthcare delivery.

As a country, however, we need to acknowledge the fact that healthcare in Ghana is unequal.

Though there have been efforts to integrate herbal medicine in some selected government hospitals, that has been saddled with challenges.

For instance, in one facility we visited, the Medical Herbalist in charge bemoaned the decline in patients patronising their services.

A patient intending to seek herbal services had to use the same laboratory department and other imaging services being used by those seeking conventional care. That created delays for patients seeking herbal services.

Further, placing herbal and naturopathic medicine departments under the management of healthcare managers such as medical superintendents and nurse managers, who have little or no training in complementary and alternative medicine, is a recipe for disaster.

Stand alone herbal hospitals

It is time for the government to also set up stand alone government naturopathic hospitals as part of Agenda 111.

These hospitals should be autonomous and separated from the conventional facilities. It is likely to generate revenue for the government, as it will build public trust and allow patients to seek naturopathic services.

It will further prevent them from seeking private services from unqualified and unaccredited herbal and naturopathic facilities.

The government herbal and naturopathic hospitals should have modern equipment.

This will place Ghana’s health system on a pedestal to compete with other countries and reduce the rate at which people leave the shores of Ghana to access healthcare.

China, India and other advanced countries have such unique stand-alone government naturopathic hospitals.

Adopting this concept of government stand-alone herbal hospitals will boost the practice of alternative complementary medicine in Ghana and in effect reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.


Further, we need to appreciate the fact that the healthcare dynamics are gradually changing.

The world at large has embraced herbal and naturopathic medicine. Ghana must not be left behind.

Also, the training of healthcare professionals in the fields of naturopathy, herbal medicine, acupuncture and other complementary and alternative medicine fields is currently ongoing in Ghana.

Occupational standards are currently being developed with the aim of providing top notch practitioners comparable to any conventional medicine practitioner.

All these factors need to be considered in the Agenda 111 decision.


In India, there are many separate government naturopathic hospitals operating distinctively from the mainstream hospitals being managed by the naturopathic or what they term AYUSH professionals.

Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha & Homoeopathy (AYUSH) professionals are at par with mainstream doctors.

We believe that the government’s Agenda 111 should have another model for herbal and naturopathic hospitals as is done in India and other advanced countries.

For Agenda 111 to achieve its ultimate goal of making Ghana a “Centre of Excellence’ in medical care in the West African sub-Region”, it must cover all aspects of the health service delivery spectrum, in addition to conventional medicine, make room for complementary and alternative medicine including herbal medicine and naturopathic facilities.

We call on the government to always think about the herbal and naturopathic community in their policies.


The writers are healthcare policy researchers with the Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, Tema, C 7 and University of Education, Winneba, respectively.