, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – The government has raised alarm over an unauthorised herbal contraceptive that is on sale in Kenya and which is causing serious complications on women and their breastfeeding children.
Director of Medical Services (DMS) Dr Francis Kimani said on Tuesday that the product was being sold as a ‘Chinese herbal contraceptive’ to women of child bearing age without authorisation from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
“The dose in this tablet is about 40 times what is supposed to be given,” the DMS said, revealing that government agencies had already noticed complication on at least six children below three years.
“We have seen enlargement of the breasts and the uterus of these children who are less than three years meaning they can menstruate any time,” he said. “If such a child is abused, they will get pregnant.”
Other side effects that had presented in breastfeeding children were swollen feet developing to knock knees, painful muscles and stunted speech.
“The mothers who are taking this tablet have a feeling of pregnancy all the time; they are also complaining of pain on their feet and they don’t feel like working,” Dr Kimani said.
“One of them is very depressed and has stopped working because of the complications of this medicine,” he added and warned that the product could also cause cancer.
The Ministry of Medical Services had received complaints from seven mothers and six children, raising fears that there could be more dangerous herbal medicines in the market.
The harmful tablet, Dr Kimani said, is on sale in herbal clinics. It is taken once a month.
“This is a deliberate way of hiding evidence,” he said adding that the product contained very high levels of Levonorgestrel and Quinestrol, which were conventional pharmaceutical products.
In July last year, the Ministry ordered media houses to withdraw advertisement of herbal medicines that were not cleared by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
However, one year down the line, the directive is yet to be effected.
The DMS said of concern also was that the information on the pack was in Chinese language, which was contrary to the Laws of Kenya, Cap 244.
“Let me tell you, when you go to herbalists, you do it at your own risk,” he warned.