Do not advertise traditional medicine, MP tells media

Tuesday September 21 2021

Dr Charles Ayume. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Anthony Wesaka

Media practitioners have been cautioned against selling advertising space to traditional herbalists, saying this could be sanctioned under the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill.

While speaking at a media meeting organised by Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development last Friday, Dr Charles Ayume, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on health, said: “Instead of helping to promote conventional medical care, you have been decampaigning it by giving more airtime to the traditional medicine. You are giving a lot of airtime on your shows and adverts to them.” 

Dr Ayume said he does not think “there is a wonder drug in this world that will treat cancer, erectile dysfunctions, smelly feet, headache” but that the “the media really amplifies these [herbal] medicines.”

He added: “We didn’t act as the government because we didn’t have an enabling law. I am happy to say the President has assented to the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill that will help Dr Fred Katumba (the registrar of the Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council) to act.”

Dr Katumba added that quack doctors are not allowed to operate in Uganda though a number of them freely operate to the disadvantage of patients. 

One such patient — Mr Charles Mawejje — testified at the same event to the torment he suffered after a quack medic administered too much quinine to him.


Background...About the Bill
The Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill, which was passed on February 5, 2019, seeks to regulate the use of traditional and complementary medicines.

It provides for a fine of Shs20m to herbalists and other providers of complementary medicine, who advertise or operate without a license. 

The Uganda National Health Policy 2000, however, recognises the role of traditional medicine in the health care delivery system as a step towards improving health services delivery in Uganda.