CONTINUED depletion of vegetation for industrial, domestic and agricultural purposes, poses a great threat to the existence of traditional and scientific medicines, as they both rely heavily of biodiversity for medical sources, a top Traditional medicines practitioner has said.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview with HealthTimes, Zimbabwe National Practitioners (ZINIPA) founding President, Mr Friday Chishanyu said the destruction of vegetation was forcing traditional medicines practitioners to travel long distances in search of medicines.
“The issue of deforestation is not affecting traditional medicines alone but both scientific and traditional medicines practices in such a way that all medicines are derived from bio diversity. The issue of environmental degradation is making it difficult to source even some medicines which used to be locally and readily accesible.
“Deforestation is now forcing traditional health practitioners to travel long distances to look for medicines. In the process, practitioners are now charging a fee for their services, something which was unheard of in the past. Traditional medicines practices is now a business that requires serious budgeting as one has to part with money in the process of searching for trees and other vegetation which could provide medicinal sources,” said Mr Chishanyu.
He also appealed to government to allocate land meant for herbal gardens in a bid to encourage the growing of medicinal herbs at a large scale level to ensure sustainability of the trade.
“We are saying there is a need for government to urgently allocate land for herbal gardens. there is need for government to take into account the issue of herbal gardens from a commercial perspective. Agriculture is being done at a large scale and vegetation is depleting.
“If people to prioritise food and neglect medicines , they will die because there wont be medicines to cure them in the future. Like other countries have done, they have allocated land for agriculture and medicinal plants and medicines are now being harvested from farms and processed in good factories to reduce the burden of importing medicines which are just dumped on us.”
Meanwhile, traditional medicines practitioners believe ailments such as cancers can be treated using traditional herbs but the absence of vegetation and the proliferation of fake healers has cast a shadow over such assumptions.
In Zimbabwe, awareness campaigns by environmental watchdogs and authorities like the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) – which is a statutory body responsible for the management and protection of the environment – as well as the Forestry Commission, which falls under the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate Change Management, have yielded little results especially in the rural areas where the practice of tree-cutting is prevalent.
This year’s National Tree Planting Day commemorations which were held on the first Saturday of this month (December) came amid revelations and mounting fears that if the indiscriminate cutting down of trees continues unabated, most parts of the country will fast turn into a desert as a result of deforestation.