Ever since the first 42 cases of HIV/AIDS were documented in Ghana in 1986, the cure, public education and coordination of the pandemic has played around the template of neo-liberal Ghana. It has not had corresponding input from traditional Ghana. While orthodox medicine has been in the forefront of finding a cure for the deadly disease, traditional medicine has not been accorded the same mileage, thus damping attempts by traditional medicine to contribute meaningfully and respectfully to the cure of HIV/AIDS.
This state of affairs has made many an HIV/AIDS campaign wobbly, one-sided, and not as holistic and representative as expected of a campaign that borders on life and death. According to the latest figures released by the Ghana AIDS Commission, the main HIV/AIDS watcher, “HIV infection among pregnant women has increased from 2.7% to 3.2%.” The national prevalence rate has also gone up from 2.1% to 2.2%. HIV/AIDS Ghana-wide has increased by 0.1 percent.
Traditional medicine may not get the needed attention but it is still the bedrock of Ghanaian medicine. Sometimes, envious orthodox medicine attempts to suppress it using the usual phrase “prove it scientifically.” When Dr. Nicholas Kofi Antwi, of the Ashanti Region-based Chronic Disease and HIV/AIDS Treatment Centre, which works with traditional medicine, announced that his centre had found the cure for HIV/AIDS, officials of the Ministry of Health and Ghana AIDS Commission went mad - a sign of the orthodox attempting to bully the traditional.
“Nonsense,” said orthodox medicine, “traditional medicine cannot claim that HIV/AIDS is curable. The public should not mind traditional medicine.” Dr. Antwi and his outfit were warned against their claim since the World Health Organization, the global heath watcher, which said there is no cure for HIV/AIDS yet. Once again, the orthodox, blinded more by arrogance than scientific thinking and open-mindedness, is not trying to understand the traditional and is undermining many a traditional medicine’s attempts to help solve the HIV/AIDS problem.
Under the immense shadows of orthodox medicine, reputed traditional herbalists are working hard to find the cure for HIV/AIDS. No doubt, the Ministry of Health and Ghana AIDS Commission are overwhelmed by all sorts of claims by some traditional herbalists. In May this year, in a mixture of openness, traditional and orthodox medicine, academic institutions and other collaborative agencies, the headline globally was “Cure for HIV/AIDS found in Ghana/Africa.” Ghanaian traditional medicine had found a cure for HIV/AIDS – called “Koankro” and needed the scientific hands of orthodox medicine to prove it. Mr. Kamara Agyapong, director of a Peace Herbal Clinic at Ejisu, Ashanti Region, said his herbal medicine could cure HIV/AIDS. It had been tested scientifically by the Biochemistry and Biotechnology Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The long-drawn conviction by traditional medicine that it can cure HIV/AIDS is getting dividends despite lack of funds, infrastructure and poor government backing. In a remarkably happy turn of events, the Accra-based government-owned Daily Graphic (September 5, 2007) reported that a group of Ghanaian doctors, ethno-botanists and their collaborators in the United States have moved closer to discovering traditional/herbal medicines for the cure of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B. This has global implications, with traditional medicine proudly walking the world over for tests and recognition. Known as MAB Formula One, which kills the virus completely, and MAB Formula Two, which is an immune booster or immune modulator, tests were done in Ghana and internationally. This includes the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (Accra, Ghana), the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine (Mampong-Akuapem, Ghana) and, internationally, at prominent health institutions such as Corning Hospital (New York, USA) and Maryland Medical Laboratory (Baltimore, USA).
Has the discovery of the MAB Formula One and MAB Formula Two HIV/AIDS herbal medicines harmonized the relationship between traditional and orthodox medicine? Will Dr. Antwi and Mr. Agyapong get the respect and peace of mind needed for them to continue with their traditional medicine? Will the Ministry of Health, Ghana AIDS Commission and the World Health Organization come down from their high horses and cooperate with traditional medicine for the common good of Ghanaians and humanity?