The health of the people determines a nation’s development ,and as such, apart from orthodox medicine, the government is endeavouring to intergrate traditional or herbal medicine into the health system.
In Kumasi, a company that is helping to promote the health of the people through herbal products is Fralena Herbal Products Limited.
Just like many other renowned enterprises that are contributing immensely to the development of the economy, Fralena started from scratch. The company started its operations from a kitchen in 1992 but today, it is one enterprise in Kumasi whose business is a major partner in Ghana's quest to make herbal medical practice a major contributor to the country's health delivery.
Fralena has over 60 range of herbal products.
Internationally, the company collaborates with the India Bacfo Pharmaceuticals and the O-Nice Company, a herbal cosmetics company in Thailand, for the production of its products.
Mr Frank Amoabeng the Managing Director of Fralena Herbal Products Ltd told the Daily Graphic that within two years India had exported herbal products worth $2 billion, and expressed the hope that Ghana could do even better than that if the right structures were put in place.
He said "Ghana is blessed, because research has revealed that 70 per cent of world medicinal plants can be found in this country of ours, so the herbal industry is one that can help this country grow if we give it the necessary attention".
One interesting thing is that Fralena products are well packaged and meet the requirements set by the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drugs Board (FDB), hence they are sold in drug stores in the country.
The Ministry of Health, Mr Amoabeng said, had also asked Fralena for some of its drugs for possible adoption for prescription in health institutions.
"When I started this business with my wife, Helena, from her kitchen, many made a mockery of me because they did not understand why I should go into herbal practice when there were other businesses around.
"Now I can say that I am a very proud person because I am contributing in diverse ways towards the development efforts of my country through employment generation, provision of medically accepted herbal drugs, payment of taxes to my nation, among other things", Mr Amoabeng said.
Fralena Herbal Products Limited has offices in almost all the regions of the country.
The father of Mr Amoabeng, the late Opanin Kwaku Amoabeng, was a herbalist, but Mr Amoabeng said he did not learn directly from his father.
While in Paris, Mr Amoabeng studied under one Jean Claude Giraudeau, a Frenchman, who was into alternative medicine practice.
" On my return to Ghana in 1992, I did not want to make it my business, and I therefore decided to go into other businesses, but someone for whom I prescribed some herbal medication advised me to go into the practice as full time when he realised the efficacy of my prescriptions, " he said.
Mr Amoabeng said he consequently approached Prof. K. Oppong-Boachie at the Mampong Akuapem Research Centre into Plant Medicine and Dr Gottlied Kofi Naomesi, who did everything to encourage him to begin his herbal practice.
Mr Amoabeng said he used his wife's shop at Adum to sell the products, and did every other thing with her.
He went to the bush almost everyday to harvest the herbs but later employed a few hands to help him do that and also prepare the drugs.
What brought Fralena Ltd into the limelight was an outbreak of typhoid in Obuasi in the late 1990s.
"People came to me from Obuasi for medications and later someone suggested that I set up a shop in Obuasi, which I did, to treat typhoid and other diseases", he stressed.
Mr Amoabeng said because of the vision to grow the business, he and his wife denied themselves so many basic things and for the first six years, they refused to buy a private car.
With support from the Agricultural Development Bank, Mr Amoabeng started the new company’s premises at Ahenema Kokobeng in Kumasi.
Some massive infrastructure development is going on at the site, with the view to expanding the business which would see staff strength growing appreciably from the current 64.
The company has set up a herbarium to provide raw materials for the production of herbal products.
He stressed the need for individuals and companies into herbal medicinal practice to take packaging very seriously and deal with the FDB to ensure that they met the required standards.
Mr Amoabeng also exuded confidence that herbal practice had the capacity to find a cure for the deadly HIV/AIDS.
He welcomed the creation of a department of herbal practice by the Ministry of Health and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology's establishment of a faculty for herbal medicine, and said this was a testimony to the government's commitment to improving the system.
Mr Amoabeng called on the government to consider organising a herbal fair where herbalists, who were in the hinterlands and were not known, would come out so that they could be assisted to serve the nation better.