Fake herbalists spring up amid CoronaVirus scare

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By Timothy Wekesa

Herbalists operating illegally have sprung up in the country, ready to cash in on the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Indigenious and Scientific Collaboration Research Association (SCRA) has warned that this poses grave danger to Kenyans who may be tempted to engage the “quacks”.

The association is approved to carry out research on traditional remedies for various ailments, according to its officials.

Its chair, Isaac Misiko of the Inzu ya Masaaba unit that comprises members from Kenya and Uganda, says there is now a bloated list of practitioners purporting to be capable of treating various ailments.

Addressing the press yesterday in his officed, he claimed some had made a syndicate to con unsuspecting Kenyans keen to have their health restored.

He says in a move to regulate the industry, the governing council of herbalists has organized a sensitization programme which will help in identifying genuine practitioners.

The organization mainly conducts research on chronic diseases such as arthritis, fractures, ebola, HIV/AIDS, fibroids and cancer.

Misiko holds that the research works have yielded tremendous fruits in recent years.

Misiko who has also been branded as the ambassador of health in the Inzu Ya Masaba at this time of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic says genuine herbalists should show up and stir research so as to combat the virus.

On 21st June 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the herbal medicine act which allows referral to genuine and registered herbal medicine to be used for combating various ailments.

Consequently, the main problem the sector has been encountering is lack of enough support by government through the Ministry of Environment.

“We extract our drugs and research samples from indigenous trees some of which are difficult to find. Our call to both County and National governments is to help us secure seedlings and plant many of these trees for posterity,” says Misiko.

He notes that their job also includes restoration of traditional foods such as sorghum, millet, fruits and vegetables rich in nutritional and health benefits.

The herbalists calls upon the government to invest more money in herbal medicine for further research, documentation and innovation.

He said the sector can reduce referrals of patients abroad for specialised treatment that is extremely expensive for most Kenyans.

The organization also appeals to the government to help them purchase equipment which can be used for processing and packaging of drugs from indigenous trees as other countries such as India are doing.

“This will increase the revenue and effectiveness of the drugs.”

The official adds that they are doing these in collaboration with other professional researchers, the University of Nairobi and The World Bank which has also been their key technical pillar.

Corruption in the medical sector has also been seen as a hitch to the progress of the association with Misiko admitting that the job requires more commitment and time.

He says after drugs are approved, researchers who carry out the duty are left with only Certificates with money vanishing into unknown pockets.

Misiko insists on the need for Kenyans to restore confidence in traditional medicines which have been used since time immemorial.

“Corona is a virus that mainly affects and kills those with a vulnerable immune system. Making use of indigenous foods and medicines boosts immunity so the patients may survive. There is alot the civilized society is ignoring,” says Misiko.

Misiko says the association is now committed to ensuring that the diminished glory of traditional drugs will be ignited soon.

Meanwhile, the association has called upon Kenyans to comply with the directives of the Ministry of Health regarding prevention of Coronavirus disease as well as being on the watch out against unregistered and crooked practitioners.

“Proper sanitation, keeping social distance, avoiding crowds alongside balanced diet are key to evading this pandemic,” says Misiko.  

CAPTION: Isaac Misiko of the Inzu ya Masaba and Director of Indegenous Research Collaboration Association addressing the media in his Bungoma office. PHOTO/Timothy Wekesa.

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