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Government toughens on herbal medicines

Government has said it will enforce strict monitoring mechanisms to ensure it safeguards lives of people buying medicinal herbs from traders.

Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Population, Charles Mwansambo, said Monday when he opened a stakeholders meeting on the herbal medicine business in Lilongwe.

Among other things, operators of such businesses will be required to have operating licences as stipulated in the laws of Malawi.

“Testing all medicines, including natural herbs, falls under the mandate of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board. It is against the law to sell herbs before they are certified safe for consumers,” he warned.

Mwansambo also said all herbal providers should follow procedures which are in line with the law in advertising their products.

He spoke strongly against false messages such as those that portray one herbal product as a cure for all kinds of diseases, arguing that it is scientifically wrong.

University of Malawi Vice Chancellor, John Kalenga Saka, said it is high time Malawi developed policies to guide providers of traditional medicines.

“Currently, institutions that are dealing in traditional medicines are working separately, so we really need to have guiding principles that will help in regulating all herbal products,” Saka said.

He added that the government should also consider introducing more research schools that will help in bringing relevant information on traditional medicines.

An official from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Moses Dodoli, said the organisation supports traditional medicines as it facilitates integration of traditional medicines into national health system by helping member states to develop their own policies.

“It is not just about having policies but ability to control and regulate it for safety and quality service delivery,” Dodoli said

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