Senate on Thursday, 22nd May, 2014, passed into law, a bill seeking to establish the College of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Nigeria.
The passage of the bill into second reading followed consideration of a bill which was sponsored by Senator Clever Ikisipo who recommended a take-off grant of N3.9 billion that will cover consultancy, capital costs, personnel emolument, and cost of specialized training for staff among others.
In his debate of the bill which is aimed at providing constitutional backing for alternative medicine practice in Nigeria, Ikisipo said the constitutional backing will make the agency be under the Federal Ministry of Health.
Speaking further, ikisipo told the lawmakers that ensuring legislative backing for the college would ultimately complement federal government’s efforts at encouraging alternative medicine practice which had already been embraced by medical practitioners in most Europe, Asian and African countries.
He said the College of Alternative Medicine will be saddled with the responsibility of training and retraining alternative medicine practitioners in the health care delivery services.
He also said the institution will carry out clinical and research as well as provide an alternative method of treating ailments.
Ikisipo said, “Complimentary and Alternative Medicine is the branch of medicine whose philosophy is grounded in the enhancement of the body’s own healing power through the use of natural means.
“This branch of medicine is coming to the forefront of health care in most Asian, African and European countries and America today, thus having the effect of a healthier and stronger society and enhancing our very valuable human resources”.
According to Ikisipo, since its establishment in 2007, the college had done research into various remedies that can cure major diseases like cancer, cholera, VVF, as well as advanced management and cure of HIV/AIDS.
However, Ikisipo regretted that the college had been producing of remedies for ailments over the years without the proper legislative framework necessary for its development and progress.
He said, “At present, the college is the first of its kind in Africa teaching osteopathy, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, natural medicine and other related disciplines in one single institution.”
The senator assured Nigerians that the institution was capable of increasing life expectancy in Nigeria from 45 to 75 years based on the quality and effective healthcare services it was capable of providing.
Other lawmakers who spoke in support of the bill described the project as laudable but cautioned against abuse by the extreme traditional medicine practitioners.
In his remarks before Senate President, Senator David Mark put question on the bill, he equally cautioned against allowing the alternative medicine practice go beyond using herbs to a different realm.
In his words, “We should be careful. This is because most of the native doctors do incantations and people say they get well. Would you take that as one of the things the College would encourage?
“There are areas where we just need to exercise a bit of caution. Sometimes, when you are sick in the village they don’t give you anything to drink. They just give you something to tie on your waist or to carry in your pocket and then it is assumed that you would recover.
“We should try and be careful so that we don’t go beyond the limit. Also I know that for those who come from the southeast, in particular in Anambra State or Onitsha, you know they sell medicine there that they say is the killer of 77 diseases.
“Just one small bottle and they market it very well and people buy and it is in hot demand. I think that is the kind of thing the College should look at.
“Establishing the College is not the problem, it is what would be taught in the College and the limit of what would be regarded as the subjects to be taught in the College that I think that we need to look at.
“Maybe after this we would get another agency that would try and regulate the subject and what will be taught in the College. I think we should all support this Bill.”