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3. The Department of Traditional Medicine (DTM)


The term traditional medicine implies the ancient and culture bound medical practices which existed before the application of science to health matters. Guided by taste and experience, early societies developed a means of healing by using plants, animal products and minerals that were not mostly among their usual diet.

In Ethiopia the long history of the use of medicinal plants is reflected in the various medico- religious manuscripts produced on parchments and believed to have originated several centuries ago. The practice persists to date for a number of reasons including socio-cultural and economic factors. Its continued popularity, however, seems to be largely due to its biomedical benefits in dealing with many of the local health problems.

The widespread use of traditional medicine among both rural and urban population in Ethiopia could be attributed to cultural acceptability, its attributed efficacy against certain types of diseases, physical accessibility and economic affordability as compared to modern medicine. In view of this the development and its ultimate integration of traditional medicine with the modern system is believed to have significant impact in the expansion of the health care coverage. In recognition of its importance as an alternative health resource readily available to both urban and rural communities, a co-ordinating office for Tradition Medicine was established in the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 1979. The office was mandated to co-ordinate nation wide activities such as phytochemical Screening, clinical evaluation of traditional health practices and surgical procedures, etc.