-Health Ministry, Medical & Dental Council, Traditional Council Tell House of Representatives
The proliferation of people, especially foreigners, claiming to have discovered herbs to cleanse the body and cure all sorts of diseases are on the rise in the country, and the Ministry of Health, the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC) as well as the National Traditional Council of Liberia (NTCL) have admitted, but said the lack of coordination among the ‘approving’ authority is the source.
Recently the House of Representatives has raised concerns over the increase of so-called herbalists who are publicizing their operations through radio stations about the cure for HIV/AIDS and other curable and incurable diseases, which are giving false hopes to hundreds of Liberians. There are reports that, amid the bad economy, many patients who cannot afford the cost of medical care for their serious health conditions are turning to ‘herbalists’.
Dr. Francis Ketteh, the Chief Medical Officer of Liberia, told members of the House of Representatives in session (Chamber) on Tuesday, June 18, during the 39th day sitting, that the amended law of the Ministry of Health authorized the Ministry to create the Complementary Medicine Section to supervise and manage traditional medicine and herbalists including issuing certificates in consultation with the LMDC.
He also said that the LMDC’s code of conduct prohibits the advertisement of traditional medicine.
The Deputy Health Minister also told the lawmakers that, besides the Complementary Section of the Ministry, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the NTCL also have the authority to issue certificates to herbalists.
Chief Zanzan Karwor also told members of Lower House that his office has written countless letters to Chief Boakai Zulu, Vice Chairman for Culture and Custom, over so-called foreign herbalists who are claiming to have solutions to all problems and are using the radio and newspapers to advertise their operations.
“These people are too much in the country, but to restrict them is the problem, because it’s like three men behind one woman.”
“The Ministry of Health, Internal Affairs and the NTCL, all have the authority to issue certificates and that is the problem. Is supposed to be one institution’s job,” Chief Karwor said.
The Registrar-General of the LMDC, Dr. Moses Pewu, also admitted to the lack of coordination among the ‘approving’ institutions, hampering the supervision. He however stated that the LMDC and Complementary Medicine Section have resolved to collaborate with the Ministry of Justice to issue arrest of herbalists who are not certificated by the Ministry of Health, through the LMDC and the Complementary Medicine Section.
Meanwhile, through a motion proffered by Lofa County District #3 Representative, Clarence Massaquoi, the Ministry of Health, the LMDC, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the NTCL are given one month to make report on the way forward regarding advertisements by herbalists who are in violation of the laws of the land; the standard of the curing of incurable diseases; monitoring of the proliferation of herbalists; and the granting of authority to herbalists.