Alternative medicine

Kenya: Bill seeks to regulate alternative medicine

Parliament moved to regulate alternative medicine to ensure practitioners work under formal guidelines, including proof of their medical history.

The National Assembly’s health committee is working on a bill that will regulate the operations of traditional herbalists.

MPs retreated to Mombasa over the weekend to consider the cost of health care in the country. The Health Laws Amendment Bill, 2021 was expected to provide a framework on how to deal with local medicine.

“Some of these people are business people who aren’t even doctors. They claim to treat all sorts of things and even advertise on trees,” committee chair Sabina Chege said.

She said some of the medicines prescribed by herbalists don’t work and those affected are belatedly realizing that the damage has already been done after rushing to hospitals.

“We need to protect our people from these people. We need to fast track the bill,” Ms Chege said.

Principal Health Secretary Susan Mochache told MPs last week that there was a need for a regulatory framework for those who practice alternative methods of treatment.

“We will come back to this committee to make proposals on how alternative methods of treatment work, including herbalists,” she said.

Many families in rural and urban areas use herbal products and supplements for various ailments, which “cannot be treated well in hospitals”. The high cost of medical care has also pushed some people to resort to traditional herbalists.

The World Health Organization (WHO) admitted in a 2004 article on guidelines for monitoring the safety of herbal medicines in pharmacovigilance systems that their use continues to expand rapidly across the world. world.

“Many people are now taking herbal medicines or herbal products for their health care at different national health facilities,” the WHO said.

In order to manipulate herbal medicines to analyze the causes of adverse events, national pharmacovigilance centers (or equivalent institutions) will need to acquire specific technical expertise, he said.

This will include staff trained in the relevant technical areas and facilities to analyze the affected products, where there is often insufficient information and lack of access to reliable information support.

The global body pointed out that the majority of adverse events related to the use of herbal products and traditional medicines that are reported are attributable to either poor quality or misuse.

Inadequate regulatory measures, weak quality control systems and largely uncontrolled distribution channels.