The disease burden in Africa, which is relatively very large compared with developed countries, has been attributed to various factors that include poverty, food shortages, inadequate access to health care and unaffordability of Western medicines to the majority of African populations. Although for ‘old diseases’ knowledge about the right African traditional medicines to treat or cure the diseases has been passed from generation to generation, knowledge about traditional medicines to treat newly emerging diseases has to be generated in one way or another. In addition, the existing traditional medicines have to be continuously improved, which is also the case with Western scientific medicines. Whereas one school of thought supports the idea of improving medicines, be they traditional or Western, through scientific research, an opposing school of thought argues that subjecting African traditional medicines to scientific research would be tantamount to some form of colonization and imperialism. This paper argues that continuing to use African traditional medicines for old and new diseases without making concerted efforts to improve their efficacy and safety is unethical since the disease burden affecting Africa may continue to rise in spite of the availability and accessibility of the traditional medicines. Most importantly, the paper commends efforts being made in some African countries to improve African traditional medicine through a combination of different mechanisms that include the controversial approach of scientific research on traditional medicines.