Traditional Chinese medicine endangers African species, report says – Nigeria – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News


Nigeria among countries signing a pact with China on traditional medicine
“TCM threatens biodiversity, aggravates 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 (BRI) initiative. Large companies 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 been sending 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 been a central element 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 ingredients of TCM) is a disaster for endangered animal species such as elephants. , leopards, pangolins and rhinos.

According to the report, TCM has been a key component 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 health cooperation is expected to be high on the agenda.

Many African governments have welcomed China’s large-scale investments and joined the Chinese BRI. This allowed China to exert considerable diplomatic influence and power in Africa, paving the way for the expansion of TCM on the continent.

Among those who have agreements with China to develop traditional medicine are Cameroon, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Togo. By officially registering to promote TCM at the national level, these countries have endorsed TCM for use by their citizens.

“One of the multilateral agreements signed by FOCAC members is the Beijing Plan of Action, which calls for strengthening collaboration in the development of agriculture, infrastructure, trade, education and health care. health. The latest edition of the action plan with strategic plans for 2019-21 states that members “will support the collaboration between TCM and African Traditional Medicine (TAfM).

Another notice issued by the Chinese State Council, the Chinese cabinet and its main 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 include building international TCM centers, training local TCM practitioners, registering TCM products, recruiting new consumer groups and expanding from the TCM industry to explore and source Ingredients.

“With the intergovernmental memoranda of understanding on cooperation for TCM signed and the TCM pharmaceutical companies encouraged to establish factories in Africa, these top-down policies are starting to be implemented on the ground. “

The study, “Deadly Cure: How the Promotion of Certain Traditional Chinese Medicines in Africa is a Major Threat to Products.”

EIA Wildlife Campaign Manager Ceres Kam 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, further straining the survival of these species.

“Our very great concern is that such a large expansion of TCM in Africa, as is the case with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, will have the effect of dramatically increasing the demand for TCM in Africa. treatments containing wild animals and, in turn, will cause more species to become endangered or extinct.

Research findings include: TCM is gaining ground in Africa, with an increasing number of African governments entering into formal agreements with the Chinese government to support the development of TCM; TCM is further approved by national laws in some African countries, such as 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 manage the risks posed by the extension of TCM in Africa, including the potential for increased demand for wildlife resulting from the expansion of TCM pharmaceutical companies and targeting. TAfM and MTC consumer groups.

Kam added, “Ultimately, the unhindered growth of TCM poses a serious threat to 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 should promote a sustainable relationship with the environment based on long-term planning and a precautionary approach.

He said: “It is essential 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 in accordance 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 are the foundation of this success. “


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