Government says it will put into place regulations that will provide guidance in the provision of Traditional and Complementary Medicines (TCM) in Malawi.
This was disclosed by Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, Dr Charles Mwansambo, during a stakeholders meeting initiated by the ministry aimed at formulating a national agenda for TCMs held at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.
The meeting attracted the participation of various TCMs and medical practitioners and academicians.
Mwansambo said TCMs have, for a long time, been a crucial part in healing the population but it is high time there is proper mechanism to regulate them.
“Globally, up to 80 per cent of people visit or take traditional medicine on top of what we give them in the hospitals and we cannot give a blind eye to this.
“We need to harness the TCMs, bring them on board to make sure all that are being provided are safe for human consumption,” said Mwansambo.
He said this will also address are the claims made by some TCMs practitioners about their products.
“There have been some outrageous claims about particular medicines treating or curing all kinds of sicknesses you can think of being advertised on radios and newspapers.
“That is unacceptable. We are working together with the Pharmacy and Medicines and Poisons board to come up with regulations to see how this can be controlled. But we do not have to demonize that, but rather bring them on the table to discuss and properly move forward as a team,” said Mwansambo.
He also revealed that government will also come up with a Nutrition Bill that will look into some of the nutritional claims being made. This, he said, is to make sure Malawians are protected.
In his remarks, Vice Chancellor for University of Malawi Professor John Kalenga Saka said this was a turning point for the TCMs sector in Malawi.
He said the initiative will help improve the long standing working relationship between the academic staff and the traditional medicine practitioners
Kalenga Saka said as a University, everything it does is guided by policy.
“In all our projects, we make references to the Constitution and the MDGS 3. But once this policy is articulated and operational, our projects will also be making reference to it so that everything we do is relevant, useful and addresses national needs.
“Again, Universities will now be in a position to interact and even seek funding from outside. In the absence of a policy, everything becomes purely un-academic and its usefulness also becomes questionable,” said Kalenga Saka.
One of the participants, Ronald Amos, who is marketing director for TERAS Health Care, said the coming in of regulations will bring sanity in the industry as only authenticated products will be available on the market.
“This is an important beginning, in the long run we will see herbal medications being prescribed by medical doctors,” said Amos.
He added that the development would bring respect amongst players in the industry.
“As of now, I can have a product and someone can just start producing a product as my own. So these regulations will help on that by bringing an interparty proper coordination,” said Amos.