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Stick to the knitting

IN this issue we carry a report about how traditional healers have allegedly trespassed into modern conventional medicine.
Medical practitioners are complaining that traditional healers are giving patients medicines that only trained doctors should prescribe.
The traditional doctors have not denied the allegations.
In fact, they have vowed to continue with the worrying practice.
A leader of the Lesotho Traditional Medical Practitioners says the doctors’ accusations are “nonsense”.
We don’t think the traditional doctors’ practice is less nonsensical.
In fact, we join the concerned doctors in calling upon the powers-that-be to crack down on the traditional healers’ “modern medicine” practice.
We cannot have people — some of them guided by bones and spirits — prescribing drugs whose effects and dangers they have no clue about.
One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know that one needs to be trained in the uses of drugs, their effects, precautions during use and their side effects.
Thus it is critical to take pharmacies and other suppliers to task over the supply of prescription and potentially toxic drugs and medicinal equipment to traditional healers.
It is also of grave concern that some pharmacists have been accused of selling prescription drugs over the counter.
This is human life we are talking about here.
And it is precious.
It is therefore incumbent upon the responsible authorities to take action before lives are unnecessarily lost.
They have to fight to bring offending traditional healers and pharmacists to book.
We are in no way campaigning against the practice of traditional medicine.
What we are against is having traditional doctors wading into a territory they have no clue about.
They should stick to herbs and bones.
We are aware why people turn to traditional healers.
First, there are people who just believe in the power of spirits and traditional practices.
Second, there are those who consult traditional doctors out of desperation — especially when modern medicine seems to have failed.
Third, we have people who go to traditional healers because they cannot afford modern medicine.
Last but not least, people consult sangomas because we simply do not have enough doctors or medical facilities to expeditiously cater for all patients.
Thus traditional medicine plays a critical role especially in Africa.
Traditional medicine generally refers to practices and knowledge that existed before the arrival of modern conventional practices which were used to promote, maintain and restore health and wellbeing.
Traditional medicine might also be considered as a solid amalgamation of dynamic medical know-how and ancestral experience.
In Africa, traditional healers and remedies made from plants play an important role in the health of millions of people.
We are aware that modern science has often ridiculed the practice of traditional medicine as primordial.
Subsequently doctors and health personnel have in most cases shunned traditional practitioners.
This is not the way it should be.
It is heartening that research over the years has started encouraging the embracing of traditional medicine.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), traditional medicine plays a key role in the 21st century.
Partnerships between communities of traditional medicine, public health and health research have great potential, the WHO says.
It is in this spirit that we call upon our government to develop policies on the evaluation and regulation of traditional medicine.
It is by the same token that we call upon the government to ensure that traditional healers do not encroach into a territory they are not supposed to.
How would you feel if a medical doctor starts throwing bones during consultation?
Traditional healers, as crucial as they are in our society, should stick to what they know best and leave stethoscopes and prescription drugs to those who were trained to handle them.

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