Traditional medicine practitioners support regulation of sector

Traditional medicine practitioners want limitations to be put on the scope of what traditional medicine treats. The Executive Director Traditional and Modern Health Practitioners Together Against HIV and other diseases (THETA), Joseph Baguma made the recommendation while submitting on the Indigenous and Complimentary Medicine Bill, 2015 before the Committee on Health on 23 May, 2018.

Today we see traditional practitioners on television misleading the public that herbal medicines cure all ailments; this is not true and there is an urgent need to stop this, said Baguma.

He further noted the need for the Bill to provide education qualifications for those practicing traditional medicine. He suggested that the minimum qualification should be a certificate in traditional medicine acquired from a nationally approved and recognised institute.

We need to protect the traditional medicine sector. There are several imposters who are taking advantage of the absence of minimum education qualifications to engage in dubious practices which endanger lives of others, said Baguma.

He also advised on the composition of the National Council of Indigenous and Complimentary Medicine saying that it is not necessary to include representatives from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, a senior medical practitioner, anthropologist or sociologist and Ministry responsible for culture in the council.

Since the Council's mandate is to regulate traditional practitioners, the number of traditional practitioners' representatives should be four, instead of only two, said Baguma.

Baguma however, opposed the section of the Bill which gives the National Drug Authority (NDA) the mandate to licence all traditional practitioners. He suggested that NDA should licence practitioners who manufacture traditional medicines while those who practice should be licensed by the National Council established by the Bill.

He added that it is unfair for the Bill to make it unlawful to concurrently practice traditional and complementary medicine and modern medicine saying that one should be allowed to practice both as long as they are qualified.

We should borrow a leaf from other countries like China, Japan, South Korea and United States of America that allow practice of both traditional and modern medicine and they have registered successes, said Baguma.

He also proposed that the Bill should be called the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Practitioners Bill, 2015 instead of the Indigenous and Complimentary Medicine Bill, 2015.

Baguma argued that the title of the Bill in its current state is not consistent with the national and international policy frameworks of traditional medicine.

The World Health Organization has a strategy on traditional medicine while the African Union made a declaration that the year 2001 to 2010 will be a decade of traditional medicine. It is therefore, only right if the word 'Indigenous' is replaced with 'Traditional' for purposes of consistency, said Baguma.

Meanwhile, the College of Health Sciences proposed the integration of Indigenous and Complimentary medicine into the medical school curriculum to promote understanding between the two.

Amos Deogratius Mwaka, a lecturer at the College of Health Sciences and a medical doctor specializing in cancer medicine said that conventional medicine practitioners are not aware of the benefits of traditional medicines.

55 per cent of cancer patients use traditional medicine but fear to disclose because medical doctors will rebuke them, and yet such herbs have health benefits. It is important to train biomedical practitioners on the principles of traditional medicine, said Mwaka.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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