, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 13 – The Ministry of Medical Services is reviewing the existing legal instruments and drafting new laws on herbal medicine to deal with overlaps of responsibilities.
Minister Anyang Nyong’o said on Thursday said that this would ensure effective regulation of traditional and alternative medicine.
Answering a question in Parliament, the Minister said there was a draft bill on herbal medicine awaiting Cabinet approval and a Sessional Paper on the same was also in place.
“We note, Mr Speaker, that inappropriate use of traditional medicines or practices can have negative or dangerous effects and further research is needed to ascertain the efficacy and safety of several of the practices and medicinal plants used by traditional medicine systems,” the Minister said.
Currently all herbalists are licenced by the Ministry of Culture but their herbal products are not under any legal control.
“However some sections of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act are clear regarding misleading advertisements for medicines and also for certain diseases and a schedule of the diseases and conditions is provided but the fines provided do not exceed Sh30, 000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years,” he stated.
He said it was because of the light sentencing that the fake herbal practitioners continued to advertise their products without fear.
The Minister however noted that there were bona fide herbal clinics which were doing commendable work but their reputation was being ruined by the quacks.
“We need to shield them from the quacks that spoil the name of this alternative healthcare delivery system,” he said adding that there was need to establish professional guidelines on herbal medicine to ensure both the practitioners and consumers operated within the bounds of order.
Last month, the government raised alarm over an unauthorised herbal contraceptive in the market that was causing serious medical complications on women and their breastfeeding children.
The Director of Medical Services Dr Francis Kimani had indicated that the product was being sold as ‘herbal Chinese’ contraceptive to women of child-bearing age without authorisation from the pharmacy and poisons board.
The dose in the tablet was about 40 times higher than recommended.
The herbal contraceptive made breastfeeding children develop faster than usual with girls as young as two years old developing breasts and enlargement of the uterus. This meant that they could start receiving their monthly cycle at that tender age.