WHO Pumps in Much Money into Cameroon to Sustain Traditional Medicine? - Dr. Dewah
Much money is being injected into Cameroon via the Ministry of Public Health to provide resources in traditional medicine. Unfortunately the money is going into wrong hands. This apparently explains why there are lots of bottlenecks in the whole set up. Dr Dewah spoke to The Vanguard about of celebrations marking the African Traditional Medicine day in Bamenda
Dr Dewah as a renowned modern traditional medic, tell me why you commemorated your 30 years in traditional medicine in Kumba, Bafoussam and Bali Gashu?
Thank you, the 14th of November last year marked my 30 years in the practice of Modern Traditional Medicine in Cameroon. This is a cause for celebration and evaluation of what I have done for the period. In all of these commemorations the public and the administration reassured and assessed that what I have been doing is significant, following the plethora of awards I received from the Youths Association – in Kumba, and that of young Cameroonian Jurists in Bafoussam, the coronation I had in Baligashu not withstanding. If I did not organize such festivities, celebrate the honours the population, and my collaborators, would have taken me for a greedy man. By my nature, I am a simple man and I like to expand, harbour many people and to give solace to people given the means. When I want to advise, I don’t talk with water in my mouth and I don’t say what I don’t know.
Who is Doctor Dewah?
This question has been asked several times. Dr. Dewah is not only a household name in Cameroon but is a famous name. I am called Dewah, the title Doctor was conferred on me by the people because of my services in the sphere of medicine. Even those who think traditional medicine practitioners should not be called Doctors still call me Doctor Dewah and I answer that title. I come from Balikumbat in Ngoketunjia Division North West Region. I live in Kumba South West Region and carry out my actvities throughout the country.
As the titan of modern traditional medicine in Cameroon now, can you trace your paths?
Yes, let me tell you my dear friends, the type of traditional medicine I am practising today is not the type my father practiced 30 years back. I have had to go to many prominent Traditional Doctors to polish my knowledge in traditional medicine to become stronger. My father was a traditional doctor. As such, I have his blood flowing in my veins. The type of traditional medicine I practise today is not his, but it is in connection with what I learnt from childhood. Though I was never my father’s student because I was only his son whom he could send to the bush to bring some leaves or barks of trees for him to concoct for public consumption, his blood is in me. After the experience I had, I decided to modernize the practice by going for more research. Till date, I have not stopped the researching.
You say your father was a traditional healer, apparently you might have inherited a bit of his knowledge, where then did you polish your knowledge?
I have passed through many renowned modern traditional medicine practitioners amongst who was the famous Dr. Adibolojia in Nigerian-now of blessed memory and many others. That is why I hold him in very High esteem.
You say the blood of your father is flowing in your veins, we understand ancient traditional doctors possessed mystical powers. Are you one of those modern traditional doctors with dual powers?
My friend let me tell you; as far as traditional medicine is concerned I want to let you know that traditional medicine is as old as humanity. When God created the world, he never created man with any illness; it is when man fell short of his glory, caused by the devil that God sent man away from the garden in anger. This however passed away as God still loves his people. After failing to overpower God’s people, the devil decided to inflict infections on people. In effect, God had to provide man with medicine against the diseases. This medicine was a tree. The fruits of the tree were to be used as well as the leaves, the skin and roots used as medicine. God also instructed some other herbs amongst plants for people to take as medicine. This healing power was not given to every body. God entrusted this to some people as a vocation. So people lived by it and the traditional medicine we use today started at that time. Man has lived by it, honoured it to give glory to God. Unfortunately the advent of civilization and mans greed for money and easy going life some traditional medical practitioners started blending tradition medicine with superstition, magic, soothsaying and many gimmicks. This was total abuse traditional medical values. The coming of modern medicines nailed the fiscal nail on traditional medicine. Since then traditional medicine has been eclipsed.
When I came back to Cameroon, traditional medicine had loosed it value and people depended much on conventional medicines that did not have the advantages of the traditional medicine. I and some of friends had to start crusading against all what was added to traditional medicine so as to maintain the purity and natural values of traditional medicine as it was from genesis. Today, we had to only modernize it by improving on its preservation, storage and application with regards to dosage yet upholding its natural principles as there were in those days. This has caused many people to return to use of traditional medicine today. Thanks to our relentless efforts for the pass thirty years. We have succeeded in discouraging all those aspects of magic and superstition to give purity and credibility to traditional medicine.
What in your opinion accounts for the interest in traditional medicine today after many years in oblivion?
Thank you so very much, you rightly said a moment ago that I am one of the pillars of Modern Traditional medicine in Cameroon. This might have been due to the number of years I have put in the practice and the effectiveness of traditional medicine. This might have also spurred the government of Cameroon to sign the convention of the African Head of States to protect and promote traditional medicine in their various countries. This convention was ratified by Cameroon government just seven years ago. Before the convention I had been practicing for 30 years. And prior to the ratification I had been crusading and practice modern traditional medicine for twenty three years. After having seen the importance of traditional medicine and evaluation made by World Health Organisation which states that 80% of world population depend on traditional medicine for survival Cameroon government had to embrace the practice. It is also thanks to my relentless efforts through the media that modern traditional medicine has advanced
What now accounts for the hitch with government officials as far as this practice is concern?
Cameroon government has very good intension for traditional medicine. The reason why government ratified the convention to protect and promote traditional medicine in the country. Unfortunate the officials put in place to administer the sector are not traditional doctors. They have a shallow knowledge about the practice and do not know where the shoe is pinching. They are not in a hurry to come out with a low governing traditional medicine. This explains why nothing has been done for he pass seven years after signing of the convention was signed.. They do not know who is practicing what type of traditional medicine, the difference between soothsaying, magicians etc. they only bundle every body in one basket. If one of them falls in the wrong hands they will conclude that all the traditional doctors are the same. In this regard, they have become the six blind men who went to see the elephant yet none of them said anything right about the elephant.
What makes you different from other modern traditional medicine?
The method I use in producing my medicines makes me different from many other traditional doctors, many are coming up and trying to imitate me. It will however be bad if they imitate and destroy my image in the domain of traditional medicine.
What are some of those very difficult health problems that others can not get you handle them with ease?
Well if I can handle them, they are therefore not be difficult cases to me any longer. For example in the modern medical sector, there are many illnesses that have been declared incurable. So because conventional Doctors believe that there can be no other source of healings after them. In this light, that what they can not cure is declared incurable. Interestingly, we handle some of such cases with ease. There are many cases of diabetes we cure in few days, yet it is declared incurable by conventional Doctors.
What is the essence of the commemoration of African Traditional medicine day of August 31st?
The African Head of States, after ratifying the convention of the World Health Organisation, decided set aside 31 of August as a day for stock taking to chart a way forward for traditional medicine to improve on its lots. Unfortunately there is a problem with coordination because the governments officials concern with our activities are not traditional Doctors them selves. In this regard, in the event of celebrations marking the African Traditional Medicine, they invite questionable traditional doctors, leaving behind authentic ones. Move so they invite only those they know will not question them on some ills of the sector. The WHO is doing every thing possible to sustain the traditional medicine and huge sums of money put at the disposal of the ministry of Public Health for use by traditional medics. Unfortunately, those of us who are renowned and can question authorities that be are being avoided. In spite all odds I still remain the titan of modern traditional medicine in Cameroon as opine by those who use medicine. I have never been invited to Yaoundé for celebration marking African traditional medicine day. I showed my concern last year by going to the department of traditional medicine, one week ahead of the “D” day August 31st but was given no information about the commemoration. The same thing happened this year.
Your product from every indication is in high demand; why not extend to other African countries to help mankind?
Smiles: is unfortunate to say this, some African countries are inviting me to either expand or settle in their countries since my activities are focus on man in the street. How can I go there when Cameroonians do not have enough? The production of my medicines is limited due to insufficient of materials. The request I have been receiving from African sub-region can not be met up with. However through my sensitization, I will request subvention from both the state and well-wishers to enable me produce the medicine in larger quantities to make my product available in most parts of Africa and affordable to all.. For instance the discovery on HIV/AIDS “Disbuilder” that retards pluralism of the virus in human system, warrants mass production to make it available and affordable to the public.
Can you tell me a little more about the functions of “Disbuilder” apart from the fact that its boasts the immune system?
Disbuilder is a medicine that holds the HIV/AIDS Virus hostage to stop it from reproducing in human system. This stops the spread of the virus in system and dies after some time. Out of about 100 people who come for treatment, 70 to 80% go back in good health after four or five application of the treatment which last for 14 days each.
Given that the drug boosts the immune system; can some body who has not carried out any medical findings take the drug to boost his or her system?
Well, it all depends on you, but we always advise the public to carry out the test to know their HIV status before we start administering our drugs. The drug is give to only those who are affected for we don’t want people to spend unnecessarily.
What has been your most difficult moment in the practice of modern traditional medicine?
You want me to revisit old wounds. Even the men in the street know that my Clinics were at one time unjustifiably closed by the Ministry of Public Health for alleged illegality. These however turn out to be unfounded, as apart from ill-fate at some levels, the decision by the then Minister of Public Health was based on rumors. “Hear Say””, .Finally the truth unveiled and my clinics were opened.
What were the reasons behind the one week open door days ahead August 31 – the African traditional medicine day?
That was my own little contribution towards activities marking the day, which to me is not a day meant for celebration but stock taking. A day for traditional doctors to evaluate their activities and brainstorm on how to we can improve upon our lots. Consultation was free during this period and all drugs sold at 40% discount on that day. All patients who consulted and took their drugs on that day benefited the discount.
How do you wish to be remembered by the time you are no more?
Well I can not prescribe how people should live to remember me, but the legally I have put in place will be my worth. The position I occupied in traditional medicine today in Cameroon today speaks for it self and is enough legacy. You know this practice was in oblivion with advent of modern medicine but today, the story is different, thanks to my long years of crusade and genuine practice as recognized by the population and official Ministry of Public Health during the commemoration of my 30th Anniversaries. Secondly the Clinics I have opened in various parts of Cameroonian and the Doctors I have trained will leave to tell my story. The Clinics I have opened all over have become institutions with trained doctors managing them. If I die today, they will remain and the people I have trained will continue to serve lives. This is a legacy that will never die.