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Production of unapproved drugs in the name of herbal medicine goes on unabated

Production of unapproved drugs in the name of herbal medicine goes on unabated: Experts. Speakers at an international conference have alleged that unapproved harmful drugs are being manufactured in Bangladesh in the name of herbal medicine. They said several pharmaceutical companies are also manufacturing substandard allopathic medicine.

ABM Faroque, Professor at the Pharmaceutical Technology Department of the University of Dhaka, said at the conference held on Saturday at DU Senate Bhaban that many people in Bangladesh take unapproved ‘herbal medicine’ for treating impotence and hair fall and boosting energy ‘uselessly’.

According to him, such medicine does not improve the condition; rather it causes health hazard. He suggested consulting qualified and registered practitioners before taking herbal medicine.

Prof Faroque alleged that many pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh have been given permission to manufacture life-saving drugs like antibiotics though they ‘lack infrastructure even to produce biscuits’.

Experts and healthcare professionals at the conference suggested expansion of the use of alternative medicine, which includes ayurvedic, unani and homeopathic medicines, to drastically cut medical expenses.

They said integration of alternative or traditional medicine into the national healthcare system and its wider use can contribute greatly to the universal health coverage that the Bangladesh government has targeted to achieve by 2032.

Ayurved & Naturopathy Association of Bangladesh (AYUNS), Dhaka University’s Department of Pharmacy, Public Health Foundation of Bangladesh, and Hamdard University Bangladesh organised the fourth AYUNS International Conference, the largest annual event of stakeholders in alternative medicine organised in Bangladesh. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘traditional medicine and universal health coverage’.

Experts said the entire world is now inclining to traditional medicine which has been proved highly effective in disease treatment and prevention with low side effects. According to them, alternative medicine is less expensive than allopathic or mainstream medicine.

They said despite having all these benefits, the medicine could not yet reach every segment of the people in Bangladesh, a developing nation. Even, few speakers claim, some people use and benefit from the alternative medicine but they are not confortable to disclose it as the medicine is not adequately recognised in the society.

According to conference organisers, Bangladesh now lacks adequate number registered practitioners in the alternative medicine field. They suggested establishment of more institutions and medical colleges, which will follow standard curricula and be controlled by a central regulatory board, to overcome the situation.

They also suggested strengthening research activities for promotion of alternative medicine.

Professor M Iqbal Arslan, Secretary General of Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), was the chief guest at the inaugural session while Professor Dr Tanvir Ahmed Khan, Vice Chancellor of Hamdard University Bangladesh, Professor ABM Faroque from Pharmaceutical Technology Department at the University of Dhaka, Professor Dr Sitesh C Bachar, Chairman of Department of Pharmacy at the University of Dhaka, Dr Monowara Sultana, Director of Homeo & Traditional Medicine and Line Director at Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), and Dr Hakim Md Yousuf Harun Bhuyan, founder of Hamdard University Bangladesh, were the special guests.

Dr Christophe Wiart from University of Nottingham presented the keynote paper at the event where over a dozen papers were presented in the scientific sessions. Policymakers and high officials from the Ministry of Health, DGHS and other stakeholders participated in the conference.

President of Ayurved & Naturopathy Association of Bangladesh Dr Samir Kumar Saha chaired the inaugural session.

Professor Arslan said alternative medicine has been a key part of the overall healthcare system. People’s confidence in it is growing globally, he added.

Dr Sitesh said Bangladesh is lagging behind many countries, particularly India, China and Japan, in expansion of the use of alternative medicine. He suggested taking a holistic approach for promotion of the medicine.

Hakim Yusuf Harun highlighted the history of traditional medicine saying that Ayurvedic medicine was invented around 5,000 years ago and unani 3,000 years ago.

Dr Samir called for support from the government and all others concerned for expansion of the use of alternative medicine.

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