Identifying strengths and weaknesses of the integration of biomedical and herbal medicine units in Ghana using the WHO Health Systems Framework: A qualitative study

Bernard Appiah, Isaac Kingsley Amponsah, Anubhuti Poudyal, Merlin Lincoln Kwao Mensah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: The use of herbal medicines in developing countries has been increasing over the years. In Ghana, since 2011, the government has been piloting the integration of herbal medicine in 17 public hospitals. However, the strengths and the weaknesses of the integration have not been fully explored. The current study sought to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the integration using the WHO health systems framework. Methods: This study used qualitative, exploratory study design involving interviews of 25 key informants. The respondents had experience in conducting herbal medicine research. Two key informants were medical herbalists practising in hospitals piloting the integration in Ghana. We used Framework analysis to identify the perspectives of key informants in regards to the integration. Results: Key informants mostly support the integration although some noted that the government needs to support scale-up in other public hospitals. Among the strengths cited were the employment of medical herbalists, utilization of traditional knowledge, research opportunities, and efficient service delivery by restricting the prescription and use of fake herbal medicine. The weaknesses were the lack of government policies on implementing the integration, financial challenges because the National Health Insurance Scheme does not cover herbal medicine, poor advocacy and research opportunities, and lack of training of conventional health practitioners in herbal medicine. Conclusions: Researchers view the integration of the two healthcare systems-biomedicine, and herbal medicine- positively but it has challenges that need to be addressed. The integration could offer more opportunities for researching into herbal medicine. More training for conventional health professionals in herbal medicine could increase the chances of better coordination between the two units. Additionally, strong advocacy and publicity is needed to educate more people on the integration and the utilization of the services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number286
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 22 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomedicine
  • Ghana
  • Herbal medicine
  • Integration
  • Qualitative research
  • Research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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