Wednesday, August 25, 2010

herberlists treat most Ugandans

Herbalists treat most Ugandans
Wednesday, 25th August, 2010

By Conan Businge
and Cecilia Okoth

ABOUT 80% of Ugandans depend on traditional healers and herbalists for treatment, according to a report.

The report on health care in Uganda by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative showed that there is one traditional health practitioner for every 200 to 400 Ugandans.

The ratio of Ugandans to conventional medical practitioners is 1:10,000.

Herbal medicine is a combination of plant materials that contain active ingredients in their crude form and is a suitable alternative to conventional medicine as long as it can cure the ailment.

The report said various alternative medicines were emerging from China, India and Arabia. The report said there were over 20 Chinese clinics around the city.

The report, which was released yesterday at Hotel Africana, showed that the National Drug Authority had “failed to exercise control over the operation of traditional healers and there is no regulatory framework for their operation”.

This, it said, had exposed patients to exploitation by unscrupulous traditional healers.

Contrary to rules, the report said the traditional healers often advertise their services on public facilities like buses and streets. Others claim they can enlarge body parts and cure AIDS.
A Bill to regulate herbalists has been drafted, though it is yet to be tabled before Parliament.

Presently, herbalists and traditional healers operate without oversight from the Government.

The director general of health services, Dr Kenya Mugisha, who launched the report, expressed concern that some reflexology companies operating in Uganda were not licensed.

“The machines they use to carry out their work have also not been approved by the Government, and may endanger the patients’ lives,” Mugisha said.

The report also showed that the number of health facilities in the country was increasing annually, but the infrastructure and equipment were still lacking.

“In some hospitals, there is no privacy in the maternity units. Women deliver in the open, and are sent home on the same day. This has left the women (at the mercy) of untrained traditional birth attendants in villages,” the report added.

In a recent survey by New Vision, most Ugandans said delivery of health services was the most important issue they wanted the Government to address.

The report also queried the Government policy of purchasing medicine and equipment exclusively from the National Medical Stores.