The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has ordered traditional herbalists to stop posting promotional material in public, saying it was illegal.
Deputy minister Dr. Seif Rashid maid the order in Parliament yesterday, calling for local government authorities to take immediate legal actions against traditional herbalists advertising their services in public places, on practically every available space—including tree trunks passing for billboards.
The ban comes against the backdrop of mushrooming roadside posters promising cures to every imaginable ailment and social problems, from new romance and jobs to remedies for incurable diseases such as HIV/ Aids.
“According to medical law, traditional healers are not allowed to advertise their services … unless such adverts are endorsed by National Traditional Healers Council (NTHC).
“…. only the NTHC can issue permits to indicate the location and the presence of a traditional healer in a particular working area,” he stressed.
He said his ministry would no longer tolerate local healers putting unauthorized posters -- contrary to the 1990 health policy -- reviewed in 2007 – which recognizes traditional healing as valid health delivery services on offer across the country.
However, the government bans adverts of such services vide a 2009 Act of Parliament , No. 23 Cap 10(1) which prevents anybody from advertising without following laid down rules and regulations set by the NTHCl.
By the same token, the principles of medicines outlined under in Cap 15 (1) also restricts healers from advertising such services in public notice boards without prior consent by the traditional healers council.
He said the health ministry would continue working with the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) in its bid to curb notorious malpractices by unscrupulous traditional healers, evoking the traditional healing Act which is closely related to the broadcasting and media laws.
He said the government would continue using the existing medical laws as a way to curb with the increasing malpractices by the few traditional healers who defy laid down rules and regulations set by his ministry.
However, he said the laws allow the traditional healers as well as medical practitioners to show where they are located and the set times for ‘consultation’ so that their customers could get access to the kind of services on offer.
Dr. Seif was responding a question earlier asked by Dr. Dalaly Kafumu (CCM -- Igunga ) who sought to know what the government had taken so far to control increased adverts from local herbal healers in open public places and in some local newspapers, some of which allow adverts claiming to have a cure for HIV/Aids.
Dr. Kafumu expressed concern that such outlandish claims had led to gullible HIV-positive people to believe that the disease was indeed curable – with traditional herbs – when there isn’t any such such cure to date.