Prof. John Kenneth Mensah

Senior Lecturer

Dept: Chemistry
Chemistry Department
Private Mail Bag
Kumasi, Ghana

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Research Areas/Interests

Bio-organic Chemistry where research interest is at the intersection of chemistry with biology....~more

My full CV

Herbal Medicine Revisited 1/4

HM refers to the non-allopathic use of crude extracts of medicinal plants formulated as teas, powders, creams, tinctures and poultices. Probably no healthcare industry in Ghana has changed as much over the past two decades as the HM industry. Over the past 20 years, the presentation of HM formulations has been totally transformed by providers with improved technology and a global view of market factors and by users that are increasingly socioeconomically savvy. During this relatively short period, HM has expanded and innovated at a breathtaking pace. These changes have forced strategic refocusing of ads on the educated, urban high socioeconomic group. The changes have also created an environment in which quackery and scams have escaped the bounds of control set by regulatory agents such as dubious providers peddling questionable products and making outrageous therapeutic claims.

Once user demographic features and other attributable socio-cultural factors that drive the alteration in contemporary HM are identified via surveys described in earlier blogs on HM, Consumer Satisfaction (CS) and its contextual influential factors can then be examined, on the foundation laid earlier, in the same user population to ultimately advance a broader knowledge of HM-based health care delivery and its associated therapeutic outcomes as well as add crucial depth to the understanding of its contemporary use culture. This blog examines how the addition of Consumer Satisfaction (CS) and other contextual data will significantly augment HM discussion by giving users, researchers, policymakers and planners, community-based organizations and the public a major data resource that would facilitate understanding in research advances on the role of consumer/user feedback in shaping contemporary HM users’ experience.



Although prior blogs has advocated the use of survey methods to identify and characterize user attributable demographic and socio-cultural factors that drive Ghana’s contemporary HM, the explanatory gap between observed contemporary alteration in presentation and usage remains vast. This gap is particularly evident in our understanding of Consumer Satisfaction (CS), a key ingredient to sustained and escalating HM use. Yet no research has been conducted integrating, even in explanatory models, user/consumer feedbacks including accessibility of HM care and comprehensiveness of available brand formulations and other use-related factors that lie at the critical intersection of availability and usage within HM use culture. With prior blogs supporting HM to be an important driver for healthcare in Ghana, knowledge on user/consumer satisfaction is extremely vital in tracking and improving quality; altering product formulation; enhancing better usage features; building and retaining user loyalty and in providing better informed care.

A comprehensive understanding of HM use culture in urban communities that encompasses CS has, therefore, become increasingly important because of the ubiquitous presence of HM, the escalating prevalence of HM use, the contemporary alteration in past use culture, the potential safety and efficacy issues, and the potential health-related problems associated with its use. CS can therefore be tailored to address previously unanswered fascinating questions with immediate medical relevance: Do available HM formulation meet the expectation of urban users? What HM formulation attributes are important to urban users? Do providers evaluate the usability of formulation, understandability of the labeling and users’ perception of safety and efficacy when formulating HM or when delivering HM-based care? How rigorous is HM-based science in meeting user/consumer preferences? Does the HM type, form, dosage and frequency of usage rely on prior CS survey and on pre-clinical safety and efficacy trials or is it arbitrarily chosen by providers? Are observed contemporary alterations in HM presentation forced unwittingly on urban users by providers or are they the consequence of a gradual adaptation of provider formulations to user/consumer demands?

Survey methods could logically be exploited to answer some of these open questions that will, invariably, extend the effort of research teams to additional emerging issues within HM use contexts. The results can then be used to leverage earlier reports on HM users’ demography in a manner that will advance an even broader knowledge of HM-based health care delivery and its associated therapeutic outcomes and will add crucial depth to the understanding of its contemporary urban use culture. Therefore, the same population of user respondents in earlier survey should be engaged in a parallel but coordinated survey with questionnaires comprised of enquiries geared toward answering fundamental questions related to HM-based CS in the areas of: availability and variety of HM formulations, user knowledge status of its therapeutic and side effects, users’ experiential knowledge status of HM’s therapeutic value, adequacy of package labeling, sufficiency of available formulations for symptom management, expectation of health outcome, willingness to recommend formulation to others and commitment to re-use formulations.

Ultimately, the data will provide information vital to reframing Ghana’s HM use culture in a way that takes cognizance of all of its underlying contextual influential factors. The study will further broaden the field's view of HM use preferences by consumers through the assessment of consumer preferences. Study results can, additionally, expand the foundation of knowledge regarding its therapeutic use in Ghana through its provision of additional valuable baseline data/information that can be used to formulate novel hypotheses in a broader national context to advances the public health objective of HM use in urban populations. HM providers can also use this information at the point of care to improve quality of HM formulations and ultimate improve health outcomes. Together with earlier blogs, such a proposed study will provide the most complete accounting to date of the nuanced features of HM use culture in Ghana and offer useful delineations of its public health implications in Ghana.

Recent Blogs

The Freshers Are Here 03 August 2020
Just One Mark Sir 03 August 2020
In Memorium-SOA; A Dirge 04 August 2020
Abuse of Broken English 04 August 2020
Dear RAD 14 August 2020
Big Science 1/2 03 September 2020
Big Science 2/2 03 September 2020
Transactional 10 September 2020
Musings on Academic Influence 17 September 2020
The Long Walk Home 24 September 2020
Herbal Medicine 1/4 01 October 2020
Herbal Medicine 2/4 01 October 2020
Herbal Medicine 3/4 01 October 2020
Herbal Medicine 4/4 01 October 2020
Fellowship 08 October 2020
The Final Goodbye 1/3 27 December 2020
The Final Goodbye 2/3 27 December 2020
The Final Goodbye 3/3 27 December 2020

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