By Daniel Chigundu
PARLIAMENTARY Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chairperson Ruth Labode has called on the health ministry to consider organizing an Indaba to discuss the possibilities of adopting traditional medicine.
The call comes at a time when Zimbabwe is battling a number of non curable diseases like Cancer, AIDS, Diabetes among a host of others which traditional leaders around the country claim to have solutions over.
Making suggestions to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC), Honourable Labode said owing to a number of testimonies of people who have been healed using traditional medicine; government should make it priority to host an indaba to find ways of integrating traditional medicine with conventional medicines.
“We should call for an indaba of researchers, medicine control council and whoever is involved to say what the ingredients are, what medicine are you talking about and who are the people who have been healed by those medicines who can testify to that.
“After that we can ask Honourable Paul Chimedza to move a motion in Parliament with regards to traditional medicine and how we can benefit from it, since he was the Deputy minister of Health responsible for traditional medicines,” she said.
Even though it is still popular in some circles especially in rural areas, traditional medicine has generally faced some resistance from some Christians circles who consider it unholy and usually associate it with witchcraft and sorcery.
Despite this resistance, some people have claimed to be been healed of such diseases as cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, TB and in some cases HIV/AIDS using traditional medicines.
Speaking at the same occasion Shamva North legislator Joseph Mapiki said bringing research on traditional medicine is nothing short of waste of time as there are already testimonies of people who have been healed to prove the medicine works.
“African traditional medicine works, we don’t need to be wasting important resources trying to do research on things that have been proved to be working. We have people who have been healed of such things as snake bites, cancer and even gastric acids using traditional medicine.
“When we were young we used to put aloes on wounds, but what have done about it, instead we wait until the same aloes come from China for us to accept them. We have a lot of traditional medicines that we can benefit from but we want Chinese traditional medicines instead,” he said.
Traditional medicine in Zimbabwe mainly consist of organic material such as leaves, tree bucks, roots and in some cases fruits.
Some enterprising Zimbabweans like Chisanzu Herbal clinic have been packaging their traditional medicine into capsules, lotions and tablets to make them more appealing and acceptable.
However according to perm sec Gerald Gwinji, government is not against traditional medicine and that people are free to use it if they believe it works, but added the medicines is only problematic when it comes to issues of prescription and quantity and preparation.
“University of Zimbabwe is trying to do research on some traditional herbs and they have got lots of them there, but they have been having problems especially when they try to separate some components of the herbs to find their active ingredients.
“The separated components cease to be effective meaning they only work in their wholeness so that has been one of the challenges and the other thing is that medicine is a jealously guard secret those with knowledge are not willing to share, they only share with their grand children when they are about to die.,” said Gwinji.
Meanwhile, a director with MoHCC Gibson Mhlanga has revealed that shortage of staff at the Attorney General’s office has been the cause of delays in bringing the Public Health Bill to Parliament adding that they have done their part.
“We did our part and the best people to call on Public Health Bill are the Ministry of Justice and the AG’s office because we did our part. I remember that was in January or February when we gave them the document.
“But up to now they are telling us they are working on the Companies Act, the officer who is working on the Public Health Bill is busy with the Companies Act which has a bit of urgency so she has not been able to go through it, although she had promised two us weeks,” Mhlanga said.