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Cabinet Approves Bill On Traditional Medicine

Government has drafted a bill to regulate the use of indigenous and complimentary medicines. Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for Primary Health Care, notes that the Indigenous and Complementary Medicines Bill 2013, was approved by Cabinet on September 11 and will provide a regulatory framework for traditional healers.

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Government has drafted a bill to regulate the use of indigenous and complimentary medicines.

 

Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for Primary Health Care, notes that a bill entitled The Indigenous and Complementary Medicines Bill 2013, was approved by Cabinet on September 11 and will provide a regulatory framework for traditional healers.

 

Opendi says the proposed bill, yet to be tabled in Parliament, has objectives to define and standardize the concept and provide acceptable standards of indigenous and complementary medicine practice as well as multi-practices in collaboration with modern medicine sectors.

 

The bill also seeks to establish a council responsible for the regulation of indigenous and complementary medicine practitioners, defining their roles registering and issuing them with licenses.

 

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Opendi notes that over 60% of the general public here in Ugandan seek the services of traditional and comprehensive practitioners both in urban and remote areas. She says that although the herbal medicines are of greater importance in public healthcare in Uganda and other developing countries, it has not been adequately regulated.

 

The minister says there has been a public outcry about the activities and practices of traditional medicine practitioners and that due to these practices, the Health Ministry has for some time devised a number of ways to control indigenous and traditional medicine. 

 

Opendi said the herbal products are unregistered and often not controlled by the regulatory bodies and that absence of a law to regulate these practices has brought about late referrals and poor management of various medical and surgical conditions. She noted that colonial legislations such as the Witchcraft Act 1957 did not discriminate between the genuine traditional healers and witches and that this has eventually accentuated negative beliefs about herbal medicines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the work of traditional therapies at 60 billion US dollars and that over 80% of the world’s population uses traditional medicine practitioners for primary health care. These include among others herbalists, traditional birth attendants, spiritualists, traditional dentists and mental health healers.