Research into the use of Traditional and Complimentary Medicines (TC&M) in the Community

Academic Lead: Dr Esther Oludipe with Dr Ornette D Clennon

Partners: Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Ibadan

International Landscape for use of Traditional Medicine

The WHO Traditional Medicine (TM) Strategy 2014–2023 was developed in response to the World Health Assembly resolution on traditional medicine (WHA62.13) (1). The goals of the strategy are to support Member States in:

  • harnessing the potential contribution of TM to health, wellness and people centred health care.
  • promoting the safe and effective use of TM by regulating, researching and integrating TM products, practitioners and practice into health systems, where appropriate.

The strategy aims to support Member States in developing proactive policies and implementing action plans that will strengthen the role TM plays in keeping populations healthy. It seeks to build upon the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002–2005, which reviewed the status of TM globally and in Member States, and set out four key objectives

  • policy — integrate TM within national health care systems, where feasible, by developing and implementing national TM policies and programmes.
  • safety, efficacy and quality — promote the safety, efficacy and quality of TM by expanding the knowledge base, and providing guidance on regulatory and quality assurance standards.
  • access — increase the availability and affordability of TM, with an emphasis on access for poor populations.
  • rational use — promote therapeutically sound use of appropriate TM by practitioners and consumers.

Taken from WHO (2013)

UK Landscape for use of Traditional and Complimentary Medicines (T&CM)

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland National policy on T&CM In the United Kingdom, the T&CM policy is integrated into the national health policy. There is regulation of OTC herbal medicines under the Traditional Herbal Medicines Regulation (THMR) scheme, but there is limited regulation of herbal practitioners or the herbal remedies that they supply to patients following a one-to-one consultation.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the Department of Health in England have several teams to develop policy on the safe use and practice of T&CM. The Professional Standards section under the Department of Health, in Leeds, is responsible for the professional regulation of practitioners. The Public Health Strategy and Social Marketing section, under the Department of Health, in London, is responsible for policy on CM.

In the United Kingdom, the voluntary sector plays an important facilitating role, and for T&CM this is done by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Integrated Health. The Department of Health has a programme to develop research expertise in T&CM and to strengthen the evidence base. It also commissions periodic surveys of the use of T&CM in the United Kingdom.

Taken from WHO (2019)

Grassroots Landscape for use of Traditional Medicines

We are keen to follow the practices set out by the WHO 2014 – 2023 strategy and the UK’s participation in T&CM regulation by setting up a community laboratory and developing an introductory course for herbal practitioners. We are also keen to screen and test the efficacy of herbs native to Nigeria (used by the large Nigerian community in Manchester), which has 4, 614 plant species.

We are envisaging a 3 phase proposal
  • Phase 1- Between May to June 2022, we worked with Masters students in Dietetics from Manchester Metropolitan University to look into public health issues and the use of plant-based preparations either as food, prevention of disease or as treatment. Our survey indicated that over 60% of the respondents (n=125) indicated that they used of plant preparations for disease prevention or as treatment.
  • Phase 2- To scale up on phase 1 with NIHR (National Institute for Health and Care Research) funding leading to the establishment of a phytochemical screening laboratory. We will also host Masters students in Pharmacognosy visiting our phytochemical screening laboratory with samples from Department of Pharmacognosy, University of Ibadan in Nigeria in search of bioactive constituents as sources of disease prevention or treatment.
  • Phase 3- To start delivering courses relating to herbal medicines, phytochemical constituents of plants, medicinal  plants and nutraceuticals