Govt to revise Traditional Medicines Act

By Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT says it intends to revise the Traditional Medical Practioners Act (TMPA) in an effort to promote traditional medicine so that it can be integrated into the clinical practice.

According to statistics, 80 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country and 52 percent of pregnant women use traditional medicine for various reasons.

Traditional medicine is said to be the first line of treatment of many uncomplicated diseases in Zimbabwe but most of it has not been subjected to clinical trials to understand issues of safety and their effectiveness.

Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) says traditional medicine is a difficult area to deal with as it contains lots of secrets and there is no formal training for the practioners.

Giving oral evidence before a Parliamentary Committee on Health and Child Care, MoHCC Permanent Secretary Dr. Gerald Gwinji said development of traditional medicine can only move forward in the country if the related legislations and policies are revises to close the existing gaps.

“The Traditional Medical Practioners’ Act was promulgated in 1981, since then several changes have occurred in the social-economic and health service delivery landscape.

“Gaps exist which require the Act to be revised to create an enabling environment for the development of Traditional Medicine. Hostilities among practioners and associations, stigma and lack of a clear regulatory framework restrict the development of traditional medicine.

“The Traditional Medicine Act needs revision to address things such as Traditional Medicine medical personnel management regulations, the protection regulations of traditional knowledge of the traditional medicine, Herbal medicines management regulations and the traditional medicine education and training. Therefore the ministry intends to revise the Traditional Medical Practioners’ Act,” he said.

As of 2016, Zimbabwe had about 1069 traditional health practioners, 13 traditional medicine organisations, 12 herbal clinics, 14 faith based organisations, 2 herbal medicine wholesalers, 3 herbal gardens and 6 complementary and alternative medicines training institutions.

Since there is no formal school for traditional medicine in the country, as some of it is passed from generation to generation, government has been conducting basic training in the area of health hygiene and record keeping.

“There is no formal training what we have been trying to do is to say within that informal training how do we come up with a program that teaches them basic issues, we have started that with UZ about keeping your things clean, how to keep your records.

“They also want something that benefits them rather than just the system so there was an issue around management of their own business. So there is no formal training really  in terms of traditional medicine it was by apprenticeship and so forth so we have no formal measurement against the training they got its peer to peer assessment,” said government.

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