Herbalists ‘killing’ Malawians

There is a ‘silent killer’ that has been let loose. This killer preys on vulnerable and sick people who are desperate for healing. The proliferation of people claiming to have discovered herbs that cleanse the body and cure all sorts of diseases is giving people false hopes that have led to many patients developing serious complications and deaths.

Truly, there are herbs that cure some diseases, but there are some ailments that can’t be cured by herbs and need proper medical attention before a prescription can be given.

What is disturbing is that there are some people who run herbal clinics who are deliberately giving wrong information about conventional medicine as bad and go a step further to stop people from taking any conventional medicine.

There are some who have clinics where they admit patients for days and yet they do not have any diagnostic instruments, relying on their intuition in terms of the dosage quantity and duration. Most of the herbs have never been tested in a laboratory. The herbs are given on suspected disease and not the actual disease—they have no way of knowing what is wrong with the patient.

The way I understand these herbal medicines is that they are supposed to be supplements. Most of the people selling and admitting people in their herbal clinics have no medical background.

The proliferation of herbal medicines if left unchecked, has the potential of undoing all the good strides the country has made in disease prevention and management. For instance, there have been tremendous achievements in the fight against HIV and Aids, thanks to the life-prolonging drugs—ARVs. However, with the herbal medicines, stories are told of how herbalists are telling people to stop taking ARVs and, instead, concentrate on taking herbs only.

Forget about the testimonies of people who say they have been healed—they could be true or not. I am worried that some herbalists are taking advantage of people’s vulnerabilities.

Many herbalists are in for the money. They are cashing in on unsuspecting patients.

I wish the Medicines and Poisons Board seriously looked into this before we lose many people. Surely, a cup of full of herbs has to be tested to check its contents before it is consumed.

Those in this business, please tell the people the truth in terms of what you can and what you cannot do. Stop telling people that they do not need conventional medicines. I wish there were also strict measures on what qualifies to be a clinic that can admit patients.

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