Herbal medicine plays an integral role in healthcare delivery in Ghana. According to a report by the World Health Organisation, about 80% of the population in developing countries including Ghana rely on herbal medicine to treat various ailments.
However, there are concerns about the safety and efficacy of some of these herbal medications. Medical practitioners have attributed some liver and kidney cases to the consumption of fake and unlicensed herbal medicines due to the toxicity of some of these products.
This has resulted in a growing interest in the regulation of herbal and traditional medicine. There are, however, perceived lapses in the regulation leading to the proliferation of fake and unregistered products in the market.
The media which is the main platform through which herbal medicine advertisers reach their audience. In its traditional gatekeeping role, the media has a responsibility to educate the general public about herbal medicines and their abuse so that consumers of these medicines can do so with informed perspectives. However, many are concerned that the media is not only shirking its gatekeeping role but is also validating unlicensed and fake herbal medicines.
To address these concerns, the Media Foundation for West Africa is holding a Public Forum on Media and Herbal Medicine Advertising in Ghana. The forum will be a one-day event which will come off on September 14, 2023, at the Kofi Annan ICT Centre in Accra.
The forum will host the Ghana Country Representative of the World Health Organization, Dr. Francis Kasolo, who will deliver the keynote address. The public forum will also bring together all major stakeholders in the media and public health sector including the Ministry of Health, the Food and Drugs Authority and the National Media Commission.
A key highlight of the forum will be the screening of an investigative story on the herbal medicine market in Ghana by The Fourth Estate, an accountability journalism project of the MFWA.
Stakeholders and health sector regulators who will be in attendance will be expected to come out with actionable recommendations for the media in regard to the advertisement of herbal medicine.