African media have spent a good deal of space and energy on explaining the merits of once-maligned traditional medical practices. Herbal medicine is indeed of great value around the region â€“ so much so that some countries, such as South Africa and Egypt, have taken steps to professionalize and rationalize the activities of traditional healers.
Not so in Kenya, according to an insightful and comprehensive article in The Daily Nation of Nov. 13. Writer John Njagi explains how herbalists are using media campaigns, filled with unsubstantiated claims to drive sales of essentially quack medicines. â€œThe only law that attempts to regulate the [traditional medicine] industry is the Witchcraft Act of 1925,â€ which is only invoked if a patient dies, writes Njagi. Kenyanâ€™s lawmakers have repeatedly failed to enact contemporary controls; a Traditional Medicines Bill remains stalled.
â€œEven though herbal medicine is an important component in the provision of health services,â€ one doctor told Njagi, â€œthe law of a law to put checks on the industry continues to water down its benefits.â€