By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Health is creating an “indigenous health desk” to examine Bahamian ‘bush medicine’ therapies involving cerasee, neem, fever grass and other substances in a wider effort to boost the country’s fight against chronic non-communicable diseases.
The indigenous health desk will also study the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
CNCDs are on the rise and are the leading cause of death in the country.
According to the 2019 STEPS survey, 13.7 percent of Bahamians with hypertension reported seeking advice from a herbal/naturopathic healer while 23.1 percent of Bahamians reported taking herbal medicines to deal with the condition. Among people with diabetes, 12.8 percent reported taking advice from naturopathic helpers and 17.7 percent said they took herbal medicines. For those with cholesterol problems, seven percent reported seeking advice from naturopathic healer and 8.7 percent took herbal medicines.
Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said the indigenous desk will seek to harness therapies and educate the public about what they can and can’t do.
The objective of the unit will be “to facilitate the improvement of health outcomes of individuals with chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs) through early detection, scientifically-proven, effective natural treatments, and high-quality medical research,” according to slide presentation on the unit.
Through the unit, officials hope to have a FAQs page on the Ministry of Health’s website and to have questions submitted for answering via email, Facebook or other web portals. Officials hope to “correlate high quality data and research with potential areas to begin introducing supported non-conventional treatment options.” They also want to establish a registry and regulatory process for providers of the treatments.
The Ministry of Health has already identified a person to man the health desk and they hope to establish the division in conjunction with the release of the marijuana commission report or before the year end.
The unit may cost about $75,000 for the first six and a half months, taking into account travel, humans resources including clerical support, technology, meetings and access to scientific journals, according to the ministry.