Raw medicine policy mooted
ABOUT 28 million South Africans use traditional medicine and there are about 185,500 traditional healers. The National Development Plan proposes that the traditional medicine industry to be integrated into the health system.
According to the plan: "Raw medicinal plants, prescriptions and herbal medicines add up to a pharmaceutical industry worth R2.9-billion.
"A policy framework for how traditional medicine fits into the health sector is important. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act of 2007 provides for national policy on traditional medicine, but actual integration of traditional medicine into the national health care system and structured relationships with the pharmaceutical industry has been limited."
The Department of Health white paper for transforming the health system recognised the importance of traditional healers in primary healthcare.
The department's Joe Maila said: "We are trying to find the role of traditional medicine in the healthcare system. Aaron Motsoaledi is meeting with provincial representatives and trying to finalise the council. At this moment we cannot say whether traditional medicine will be available in pharmacies or not."
WHAT TRADITIONAL HEALERS SAY:
Nobathimbo Pantshwa said: "I prefer to be called a religious healer. But it would add support from people if we were regarded as professionals."
Themba Vakalisa said: "I don't agree with it. Other companies do not recognise the certificates we produce. The new legislation will limit the powers of traditional healers. They will also limit how much herbs we can collect."
Alice Mhlongo said: "I think it is a good thing because there are some diseases that some doctors cannot heal, like diabetes. I have herbs that can help cure diseases like these."