BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
TRADITIONAL medicine practitioners on Tuesday bemoaned underfunding towards research and the manufacture of traditional medicines, which has resulted in lack of recognition of their practice in the health sector.
Health ministry director Onias Ndoro said this during a meeting with the Ruth Labode-chaired Health and Child Care and Parliamentary Portfolio Committee where he told MPs that government had failed to release the required funds for research and other necessities in the manufacture of traditional medicines.
The meeting was meant to discuss the development and promotion of traditional and complementary medicines in Zimbabwe.
He said government should consider allocating 2,5% of the Health ministry budget vote to the traditional medical sector.
“Traditional medicine is not widely recognised in the country due to a number of challenges which include lack of funding and lack of standards for indigenous medicinal products. The traditional medicine sector has been receiving way below the requested funds from government. In 2020 for instance, the sector requested $350 000, but only received less than $30 000,” Ndoro said.
“There is also a need to strengthen the traditional medical council which spearheads manufacturing of traditional medicines. The council has not been meeting over the past five years, which derails progress in the sector.”
Ndoro said there was a lot of secrecy among the traditional practitioners who did not want to disclose important herbs or to pass on their knowledge to others, which hindered standardisation of the traditional medical practice.
He also urged government to include the traditional medicine practice in the education curriculum and to bring together traditional and conventional medicine practitioners to engage in research.
Traditional Medical Practitioners Council (TMPC) registrar Joice Guhwa said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of traditional herbs which had been downplayed due to the rise of conventional medicine.
Guhwa said many people resorted to traditional concoctions to cure the respiratory disease.
“The challenges experienced in the traditional medical sector date back to colonialism where local medicines were underutilised due to the rise of the conventional drugs. The Witchcraft Act of the 1960s was also promulgated to do away with traditional medicine; hence since then, the practice has been sidelined and was regarded as dirty and backward.”
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