HERBALISTS and traditional healers expressed their dissatisfaction about the way Government is handling the integration of its members into the national delivery system.
Chief among the herbalists’ bone of contention is the process that herbalists must go through for their herbs to be clinically tested and certified.
The herbalists say the US$1 500 which is required from herbalists for them to have their herbs tested and certified is beyond the reach of many.
Mavis Mwarowangezvo, a traditional healer and herbalist, said Government is not sincere in its approach to issues related to herbalists.
“Honestly speaking, where does a poor person like me get US$1 500 just to have a herb which has been in use since time immemorial tested? In my view, the fees are part of deliberate efforts to lock out people like us from practising commercially,” Mwarowangezvo said.
Mwarengezvo also urged authorities to treat foreign herbs the same way they are treating the local ones.
Mwarewangezvo said foreign herbs are being sold commercially without the required clearance.
“I am not against foreign herbs. What we are saying is that, just like local herbs, they must be regulated, tested and monitored when they are sold commercially. This must be done for the safety of the general public,” Mwarewangezvo said.
Sekuru Friday Chisanyu, the president of the Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (ZINPA) weighed in, adding that some of the laws protects foreign herbs at the expense of the local ones.
He added that local herbs are often stigmatised, resulting in Zimbabweans preferring foreign herbs ahead of the locally produced ones.
“When a local herbalist sells his products on the streets, the authorities do not take any action. However, when that same herbalist went on to open a traditional pharmacy, then issues to do with clearance and regularisation suddenly crops up. In my view, the laws protect foreign herbs,” Sekuru Chisanyu said.
Over the years, there has been an influx of foreign herbs, mostly from India and China, among other countries.
Government has, however, been at the forefront in the recognition and development of traditional medicine.
Recently, local doctors embarked on clinical tests to ascertain the effectiveness of a powder made from local herbs, against Covid-19.
The powder, called Bhanan’ana, was discovered by prominent herbalist Dr Kenneth Chivizhe.
Dr Chivizhe is conducting the tests with the assistance of Dr Tichaona Sithole under the supervision of the Medical Research Council of Zimbabwe.
Sekuru Chisanyu applauded this development, saying Government has at last revisited its system.
“Government has always recognised our work. What was lacking was the physical, financial and technical support to facilitate research and development. Government has realised that it cannot implement the traditional medicine policy without actually engaging the traditional healers,” Sekuru Chisanyu said.