Nigeria among countries in pact with China on traditional medicine
“TCM threatens biodiversity, exacerbates poaching and illegal trade”
The aggressive expansion of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in many African countries, including Nigeria, poses a direct threat to the future of some endangered species.
In recent years, the Chinese government has stepped up its promotion of TCM in Africa as a key part of its controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Large businesses and numerous clinics have already been established across the continent, with some retailers planning to establish full supply chains.
In an effort to establish diplomatic relations and provide health care, the Chinese government has sent medical teams to Africa since 1963. At least 21,000 medical professionals, including more than 2,000 TCM practitioners, have provided services in 45 countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These efforts have formed a central part of the government’s foreign policy strategy in Africa.
But a new report from the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) warns that such a massive expansion of the TCM market (coupled with the perception in the industry that Africa is a potential source of TCM ingredients MTC) is catastrophic for endangered animal species like elephants. , leopards, pangolins and rhinos.
According to the report, TCM is an essential part of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), a high-level platform that brings together 53 African countries and China. This year’s summit is hosted by Senegal, and healthcare cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda.
Many African governments have welcomed China’s large-scale investments and joined China’s BRI. This allowed China to wield considerable diplomatic influence and power in Africa, paving the way for the expansion of TCM on the continent.
Among those with agreements with China to develop traditional medicine are Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo. By officially committing to promote TCM at the national level, these countries endorsed the use of TCM by their citizens.
“One of the multilateral agreements signed by FOCAC members is the Beijing Action Plan, which calls for enhanced collaboration in the development of agriculture, infrastructure, trade, education and health. . The latest edition of the action plan with strategic plans for 2019-21 states that members “will support collaboration between TCM and Traditional African Medicine (TAfM).
“Another notice issued by China’s State Council, China’s cabinet and its chief administrative authority, reiterated that the global expansion of TCM is part of the country’s 2016-30 national strategy. The long list of ambitious global goals set out in the strategy includes building international TCM centers, training local TCM practitioners, registering TCM products, recruiting new consumer groups, and expanding of the TCM industry to explore and source. Ingredients.
“With intergovernmental memoranda of understanding on TCM cooperation signed and TCM pharmaceutical companies encouraged to set up factories in Africa, these top-down policies are beginning to be implemented on the ground.”
The study, “Lethal Remedy: How the promotion of some traditional Chinese medicine in Africa poses a major weapon to endangered Wildlife,” urges much stricter monitoring of TCM and government action to deter pharmaceutical companies, TCM practitioners and traders to use endangered wildlife in their products.
Ceres Kam, EIA Wildlife Campaigner, said, “We understand that traditional medicine is an integral part of many cultures and plays an important role in healthcare in Africa and beyond.
“However, while the majority of TCM treatments are herbal, some pharmaceutical companies continue to source ingredients from endangered animals, adding to the pressure on the survival of these species.
“Our very real concern is that such a significant expansion of TCM in Africa, as is happening under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, will dramatically increase demand for treatments containing of wildlife and, in turn, will lead to more species becoming endangered or becoming extinct.
Research findings include: TCM is gaining momentum in Africa, with an increasing number of African governments entering into formal agreements with the Chinese government to support TCM development; TCM is in the process of being approved under national laws in some African countries, as seen in Namibia and South Africa;
TCM products containing animal parts are freely available for sale at retail outlets across Africa; the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled the Chinese government to step up its promotion of TCM in Africa.
The report says there is an urgent need to better address the risks posed by the popularization of TCM in Africa, including the potential for increased demand for wild animals resulting from the expansion of TCM pharmaceutical companies and the targeting TAfM and MTC consumer groups.
Kam added, “Ultimately, the unfettered growth of TCM poses a serious threat to the biodiversity found in many African countries, all in the name of short-term profit. Any use of endangered species in TCM could potentially stimulate additional demand, incite wildlife crime and ultimately lead to overexploitation.
The EIA recommended that governments promote a sustainable relationship with the environment based on long-term planning and a precautionary approach.
He said: “It is paramount that African countries benefit from economic development, health care and infrastructure to improve well-being and quality of life. However, it is equally important that such development takes place with a holistic approach, which includes safeguarding the health of the environment and its inhabitants in the long term.
“Strong laws, adequate resources for managing authorities and law enforcement agencies, and transparency in the development and implementation of regulations underpin such success.”