Widespread reliance on traditional medicines can be partially attributed to the high cost of allopathic pharmaceuticals, particularly after the devaluation of the Central African franc. Numerous persons from other countries use Beninese traditional medicine.
Eighty per cent of the population relies on traditional medicine.
In the Regular Budget 1998-1999, US$ 14 000 was allocated to traditional medicine.
There is a licensing process and a registry of traditional medicine practitioners in Benin. Local officials are allowed to authorize the practice of traditional medicine in their administrative and/or health subdivisions. Some traditional medicine practitioners are involved in the primary health care program in Benin. There are national as well as provincial intersectoral councils and groups in charge of reviewing problems concerning traditional medicine.
Section 3 of Code 3.4, Quality of Health Care and Health Technology, relates to traditional medicine. One objective under this section is the promotion of traditional pharmacopoeia through the following:
• updating and distributing a national list of traditional medicine practitioners by field of specialty – US$ 5000 is set aside for this task;
• developing and distributing a guide for the rational use of traditional pharmacopoeia – US$ 9000 is allocated for this task.
The Ministry of Health perceives obstacles to the promotion of traditional medicine in Benin to include the following:
• lack of means to evaluate the quality, safety, and efficacy of traditional medicine products;
• lack of training in proper sanitation techniques for practitioners of traditional medicine, leading to unfavorable conditions in the practice of traditional medicine.
In consideration of these obstacles and in order to protect consumers, the Government has prioritized the following projects:
• a census of non-governmental organizations operating in the field of traditional medicine;
• a census of practitioners of traditional medicine;
• evaluation of the possibilities of integrating traditional medicine into the national health care system, particularly into health centers at the sub-prefecture level;
• training traditional medicine practitioners to refer serious cases of certain illnesses, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS, to allopathic health centers.
The Government envisions many opportunities for traditional medicine in Benin; these projects are just the first steps in a long process.