By David Lumu and Tony Rujuta
Cabinet has approved the enactment of a Bill that will regulate the proliferation and operation of traditional doctors and herbalists in the country, Health Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has said.
Speaking at the media advocacy programme on Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs) at Imperial Royale Hotel on Friday, Rugunda also warned cigarette smokers that government is soon embarking on vigorous enforcement of laws against smoking, especially in public.
"Cabinet has passed the Bill to regulate herbalists and traditional medical practitioners. The Bill is being tabled in Parliament in due course," he said.
The spirit of the Bill, he stressed, is to sieve out quack practitioners from the genuine health workers, and also bring a stop to the rising figures often fuelled by wrong prescriptions by the quacks.
To explain the connection between the escalation of NCDs and traditional herbalists, Dr. William Lumu, a Diabetologist at Mengo Hospital and chairman Uganda Diabetes Association, said that the regulation of traditional herbalists will partly help to tame the rising prevalence of NCDS like diabetes, cancers, cardio-vascular, chronic respiratory, kidney and mental illness.
"Our people tend to trust these traditional herbalists more. They even stop taking clinical medication on the advice of these untrained traditional doctors. We need to control these fake doctors. You cannot tell a patient that you can cure cancer!" Lumu said.
According to Rugunda, these Non Communicable Diseases are slowly killing Ugandans, a move that might injure the economic progress of the country.
"In 2008, 80% of NCD related deaths were developing countries. It is estimated that 30% of the adult population in Uganda have high blood pressure and 80% of these are not aware that they have these diseases," he said.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Director General Health Services at the Ministry of Health, told New Vision that if a person is to be flown abroad for treatment of any NCD, 60,000 dollars are spent.
To curb these illnesses, Aceng advised Ugandans to control tobacco smoking and resort to healthy diets, and daily exercises. She also appealed to Ugandans to go for free screening in government hospitals in order to detect these diseases early enough and receive proper medication.