One medical condition that has served as a major health challenge, especially for black males, is prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system, leading to difficulty in urinating, blood in the urine or pain in the pelvis, back or during urination.
While management of the situation had been a major challenge in the past for conventional medicine, alternative medicine has provided an avenue for hope.
After conventional treatment, this cancer comes back for 75 per cent of patients; and it usually comes back in a drug-resistant form. High-grade prostate cancer is one of the biggest supervillains out there.
It is for this reason that a college dedicated to championing alternative medicine in Ghana, known as Nyarkotey College of Holistic Medicine, has been established.
Located in Tema and Ashaiman, the college is affiliated to the Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine in Larnaca City, Cyprus, which is rated among the top five holistic medical schools in the United States, according to Shannor Walker Inforbarrel 2012 reports.
The school offers programmes leading to the award of Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Science in Holistic Medicine, in addition to a number of diploma programmes in naturopathic medicine, herbal medicine, homeopathic medicine, detoxification and toxicology, among a host of others.
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The college has also developed certificates in practice programmes in Naturopathic Medicine, Homeopathic Medicine, Herbal Medicine and others agreed with the Traditional Medicine Practice Council of the Ministry of Health.
Qualified graduates are expected to write the professional qualifying examination to be conducted by the Traditional Medicine Practice Council of the Ministry of Health.
It is also the body which is playing a key role in the amendment of the Traditional Medicine Practice Act to give alternative medicine and its education a boost.
In an interview with the Chancellor of the college, Dr Raphael Nyarkotey Obu, who is also a research Professor of Prostate Cancer and Alternative Medicine at the Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, he said the college aimed to promote, hold workshops, seminars, public lectures and train practitioners in the field of holistic medicine.
It will also research into evidence-based alternative medicine in order to bring it to the public domain.
Dr Nyarkotey said he aimed to use the college to build public trust in alternative medicine. The college, which is set to be the first Africa Alternative Medicine University College in Ghana, will also collaborate with stakeholders to develop policies to streamline alternative medicine.
According to Dr Nyarkotey, when people used alternative medicine, "the scientific enterprise" does not have to be abandoned, recalling that 20 years ago, not many physicians would have advised patients to take medications such as folic acid, vitamins or minerals.
The renowned science writer also posited that while there were theoretical differences, the war was not caused by differences in medical theory.
"We are not dealing with a scientific problem. We are dealing with a political issue. Thirty years ago, acupuncture and mind-body healing were considered taboos.
“Now in clinics and hospitals around the country, non-traditional therapies are becoming more acceptable, as many studies prove them to be successful in treating some chronic diseases which could not be cured by conventional medicine,” he recounted.
Medical practitioners education
Currently in Ghana, there is no college dedicated to alternative medicine at the higher level, and the Nyarkotey College has set the pace.
According to Dr Nyarkotey, naturopathic doctors were trained similarly to general practitioners (GP) in the medical doctor model.
They are able to identify emergency cases and potential life-threatening diseases.
They are trained in first aid and follow a ‘gold standard of treatment’ based on modern medicine and research.
Legality of alternative medicine
According to Dr Nyarkotey, with regard to alternative medicine, there was no such thing as international recognition as each country or jurisdiction had its own legislation.
Also, there is no such thing as ‘internationally accredited for colleges in alternative medicine’.
He explained that each country had its own accreditation, especially in the field of Natural Therapies, and regulations changed from time to time.
He noted that most countries have no legislation allowing the profession to be freely practised.
In Ghana, traditional medicine has legislation but not alternative medicine, and currently the Traditional Medicine Act is undergoing some amendments to fuse the two under one council.
“Until the promulgation is done on alternative medicine, there is no legal backing; so currently, all the alternative medicine practitioners are registered and licensed based on the Traditional Medicine Practice Act which supports traditional medicine and not alternative medicine,” he noted.
According to him, in Nigeria, alternative medicine is regulated by the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria.
They have recognised alternative medicine as a second-class profession and have accepted homeopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathic medicine.
Any other practice is not recognised by the council. They regulate the profession and its education.
“It is only India that has a separate ministry called AYUSH with different councils, with government-approved courses and recognised practices such as naturopathy, homeopathy, yoga and others accredited by the University Grants Commission.
“So until there is a specific law on alternative medicine which the government recognises, then the law provides the road map of accreditation in Ghana.
This is why we are calling on Parliament to have a look at the Traditional Medicine Practice Amendment Act with urgency,” he pointed out.
Answering the question on quackery, Dr Nyarkotey cited a case by The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, in the matter titled “Poonam Verma versus Ashwin Patel, CA No. 8856/1994 dated 10.05.1996 which held that:
"A person who does not have knowledge of a particular system of medicine but practises in that system is a quack and a mere pretender to medical knowledge or skill, or to put it differently, a charlatan.”
In view of the above landmark judgement, it is stated that the person who possesses recognised qualification or knowledge of a particular system of medicine is only authorised to practise in that particular system of medicine.
“If a person practises in any other system of medicine of which he does not possess recognised qualification/knowledge, then that person will be considered as a quack, i.e. a mere pretender to medical knowledge or skill, or a charlatan,” he explained.
The governing board of the college is led by the Konor of Yilo Klo State, Oklepeme Nuer Anobaah Sasraku II.
It also has Nana Okogyeduom Barimah Ntim Barimah, popularly known as Oheneba Ntim, of Oman FM, Mr Tetteh Ademan, Dr Akonotey Ahulu, Nana Koryo Piyogu Aplam II, who is a Paramount Queenmother of the Manya Krobo State and by providence, the President of the Manya Krobo Queenmothers Association, Mr Daniel Tetteh Boafo, Dr Raphael Nyarkotey Obu and other notable personalities.
Dr Nyarkotey said the college is here to work with policy and stakeholders as the first institution and welcomes suggestions for the betterment of alternative medicine in Ghana.
About Dr Nyarkotey
Dr Nyarkotey started his medical profession as a Medical Sonography graduate from Radford University College, Ghana and focused on prostate or urological ultrasound.
He is the National President of the Alternative Medical Association of Ghana (AMAG).
He graduated from the IBAM Academy in Kolkata with a Doctor of Philosophy in Alternative Medicine with research interest in prostate cancer.
He studied the Master’s Module Programme in prostate cancer at the Sheffield Hallam University, UK and had his Post-doctoral programme at the Da Vinci College of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca City, Cyprus under Dr George Georgiou.
With research on the hibiscus sabdariffa plant and prostate, he recently completed his second Doctorate in Alternative Medicine at the Open International University for Alternative Medicine, Chennai, India.
He has won several awards for the crusade against prostate cancer and as a holistic medical practitioner who has conducted several researches into Naturopathic Urology with hundreds of publications in both national dailies and journals.
He is also a member of the Prostate Cancer Transatlantic Consortium, a firm researching into prostate cancer in West African men under the University Of Florida, led by Prof. Odedina.