Herbal medicine may be a contentious issue, but the high cost of medicines and their unavailability in public hospitals have forced people to turn to alternative solutions in the eastern African nation of Uganda, which experts fear could lead to people falling victim to counterfeit medicines. is called a cure.
Damali Nanfuka, a resident of the capital Kampala, told the Anadolu Agency (AA) on the eve of World Medicine Day, which is being celebrated on Monday, that doctors charged her 100,000 shillings ($ 29) to treat her diabetes. She dropped plans to consult a doctor further and turned to an herbal medicine clinic.
“I went to an herbal medicine clinic where I got medicine for only 40,000 shillings ($ 11),” she said.
Patrick Kasadha, a pharmacist at a state hospital in the eastern Ugandan district of Iganga, said there was not enough medicine in state hospitals due to lack of money. But Health Minister Ruth Jane Aceng recently told the media that some medical workers stole medicine and sold it to private clinics.
The problem has taken such an acute turn that two weeks ago, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni closed all pharmacies operating in state hospital areas, following reports that hospital authorities stole drugs and left them to private pharmacies.
Abiaz Rwamwiri, a government official at the Medicines Agency, said there were reports of people making counterfeit herbal medicines.
“As a national drug authority, we have a mandate to regulate drugs that are manufactured here or imported. In our country, some people manufacture counterfeit herbal drugs,” he said.
Isac Kiburaba, a pharmacist in Kampala, said that some people simply mix conventional medicine with some concoctions from tree leaves to deceive people. He said in some places that it was seen that these people mix medicine intended for malaria with water and mango leaves.
Rwamwiri noted that his authority has so far certified 194 herbal medicines for medical use after testing them in laboratories.
“There has been a fall back on herbal medicine. Because many people turn to herbal medicine, many people use unscrupulous people and sell fake herbal medicine to unsuspecting people,” he said.
Just on the outskirts of the capital Kampala, herbal medicine shops sell various concoctions, which claim to cure cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, malaria and all sexually transmitted diseases.
“We have medicines that relieve HIV, AIDS. We also treat toothache without removing rotten teeth. We have medicines that make infertile women give birth to children and for weak men we have medicines that make them strong,” claims Nakakawa, who runs the store.
She said her boss Andrew Luwanga, who calls herself a doctor, has inherited the medical practice from her late father.
She said that they get many who come to buy their herbal medicine for the treatment of various diseases because conventional medicine is very expensive.
She said that state hospitals either lack medicine, or that the little they have is stolen by doctors and sold to private pharmacies.
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