TRADITIONAL medicines practitioners have applauded government and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) for recognizing their role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which has wreaked havoc across the country’s 10 provinces.
By Michael Gwarisa
This also comes at a time the world is celebrating the African Traditional Medicines day which is commemorated every on the first of September.
In an interview with HealthTimes, Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (ZINPA) president, Mr Friday Chishanyu said traditional medicines practitioners deserve recognition and assistance from government.
We are happy that government now recognizes the role of traditional medicines practitioners in the national health delivery system. We are also glad to see that even during this prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, we have also been recognized as essential services who offer key health services to the people of Zimbabwe.
“We were roped into the community engagement initiatives and government also provided us with tools to use for screening our patients for COVID-19. We were given thermometers to conduct temperature screening and if we suspect the patient could be COVID-19 positive, we refer them to health facilities in consultation with the COVID-19 command center. We see that now government has seen the importance of bringing traditional healers and the ministry of health together,” said Mr Chishanyu.
He however called on government to assist traditional healers and practitioners to improve on their branding and marketing of products so as to penetrate foreign markets.
“We have realized that, traditional healers and traditional medicines practitioners are struggling to take their medicines and products to other markets so that they can be regionally and internationally recognized due to other challenges such as trade barriers and policy issues and lack of resources.
“Traditional medicines in Zimbabwe does not have an institutional framework which clearly spells out the relationship between traditional healers and other organizations in the health sector. We do not have education and training programs to support traditional medicines in Zimbabwe. We also do not have clear laws to govern the practice of traditional medicines in Zimbabwe.”
He added that there is no industrial and scientific machinery to use in the proper production, farming, processing, packaging and labeling of traditional medicines and this has slowed plans to export locally produced traditional medicines beyond Zimbabwean boarders.
“Other countries which have progressed in developing traditional medicines have invested heavily in these things I have mentioned here. Their governments assisted them in regularizing and formalizing their processes and this has made these countries powerhouses in terms of production and exporting traditional medicines.
“Traditional medicines are at risk in Zimbabwe due to continue deforestation and depletion of vegetation. Government has not set aside land for farming of traditional medicines as is the case in other countries. This helps in ensuring continuity and traditional medicines,” said Mr Chishanyu.