The Ministry of Health Deputy Permanent Secretary, Dr Havuna Jibri says it is working hard to finalise the traditional doctors bill. “We are working around the clock to finalise the draft bill. It has not been an easy experience as consultation has been going back and forth between partners to make the bill ready for submission for discussion,” he said.
Speaking at the traditional medicine men gathering in Sefhophe, Jibri said this year’s theme, which was: “Regulation of the Traditional Health Practitioner in the African Region”, was appropriate.
He said it was appropriate because of the challenges faced by many African countries without a legal instrument to regulate the practice. He stated that lack of regulation created an ideal situation for some traditional doctors and the safety of patients compromised.
Jibri said the absence of proper regulation establishing the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medical products and services seems to encourage unacceptable behaviour.
He said many disadvantages came with lack of traditional health practitioners’ regulation.
“We have experienced an influx of traditional health practitioners from other countries, some with false credentials solely aimed at robbing Batswana,” he said. He also said some deaths occurred because of negligence by traditional health practitioners.
“We have sadly heard of some lives lost and the loss attributed to traditional healers prescribing toxic traditional medicine to patients,” he said.
He warned that this should not be allowed to continue and the only solution was regulation of traditional healers to benefit, not only the patients but also ensure that Botswana’s natural resources were protected.
The proposed law will ensure that Botswana protects its natural resources.
Jibri said there had been an increase in global interest in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine and natural products such as moringa and monepenepe, hence the need to protect them.
The deputy chairman of Baitseanape Ba Setso Board, Molaodi Oitsile said he welcomed the proposed law.
“If we continue to have no regulation we are still going to receive bad treatment from the society,” he said.
Oitsile said traditional healers were fast losing dignity and respect as clients tended to value modern medicine over their trade.
He said traditional healers remained valuable because modern medicine could not unlock certain ailments. He also said it was surprising that some people continued to degrade the value of traditional doctors who have played a crucial role before the advent of modern medicine.
Oitsile encouraged traditional doctors to refrain from bad behaviour that lead to people ending up labelling traditional doctors liars and cheats.
“The behavior of some traditional doctors is unacceptable,” he said. “Some consult their patients under the influence of alcohol and they end up raping their patients. These are the people who drag our good name in the mud.”