Once President Yoweri Museveni signs the Traditional and Complimentary Medicines Bill, 2019, no tradition healer will be allowed to use the title of ‘doctor’ again, the Ministry of Health has warned
The Bill was passed by Parliament on Tuesday, February 5, and now awaits the President’s signature and assent for it to become a law.
The Act, among others prohibits traditional healers from using the title ‘doctor’ and making enormous advertisements on both radio and televisions.
However, since its passing, traditional healers have been come out to attack the Ministry Health for trying to fight them yet they do offer services to many poor Ugandans who cannot afford the expensive medicine.
On Thursday, the Minister of State for Health – General Duties Sarah Opendi said traditional healers do not qualify for this title because they have never gone in any modern training school of medicine.
“A person who practices indigenous and complementary medicine shall not use or refer to himself or herself titles belonging to the practice of modern medicine for which they are not qualified such as a doctor, nurse or professor,” Opendi told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre.
Once the bill becomes a law, the minister added, a council will be formed and by statutory orders from the health minister, it will declare titles to be used by practitioners of indigenous and complementary medicine based on their qualifications and quality of service rendered.
This council will register all practitioners and also will set the qualifications for registration.
One of the requirements needed is relevant knowledge, training or skill recognized by the council to practice. The applications must be endorsed by the District Health Officer, the village local council executive. In the case of complementary medicine, the person should hold a valid qualification in the field of specialisation of complementary medicine.
“Once this Act is signed it will also prohibit the advertisement of herbal medicines without authorisation by the council. In case this is done without the council’s go ahead, this will result into revocation of the license and conviction of a fine not exceeding 1,000 currency points Shs20million) by both the media station and their client,” said Opendi.
On the issues of ministry intending to jeopardise their work, Opendi said over the years, a number of quacks have claimed to be traditional medicine researchers and yet make concoctions of both conventional and herbs for the unsuspecting clients.
“Some these concoctions fronted by these quacks have been found to contain substances that lack the capacity to cure any illness. We do intend to fight anyone this Act is intended to provide a regulatory framework for traditional herbalists, integrate traditional and complementary medicine in the healthcare system,” she added.
According to Uganda’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for Health Policy (2012), 25.716 million Ugandans use Traditional and Complimentary medicine (TCM) for primary healthcare because they are widely available and accessible than the conventional medicine, secondly the ratio of the traditional medicine practitioners to the population is 1:200 and 1:400 while that of the conventional practitioners is 1:20,000 or even less.