Committee On Health Meets With Civil Society And Traditional Health Practitioners (THPs) On The Indigenous And Complementary Medicine Bill, 2015
Discussed in the Committee on Health on June 1st, 2018
On the 29th of May 2018, the Health committee held a meeting with the Civil Society, and Traditional Health Practitioners.
The civil society organisations comprised of KIMHECOP, SEFA ORGANIC, National Council of Traditional Healers and Herbalists Association (NACOTHA), Herbalists without Orders, NakeddeMathias Herbal Research Centre, SPIRO, URI, PRO.ME.TRA Mboga Com, Pharm-Bio Technology and Traditional Medicine Center (PHARMBIOTRAC), and Mbarara University of Science and Technology. The meeting was chaired by Hon. Kahunde Hellen the vice chairperson of the committee.
Civil Society, Traditional Health Practitioners concerns and responses on different clauses
Clause 1: Title of the Bill “Indigenous and Complementary Medicine (ICM)”
Omitting the word traditional totally changes the meaning and value of traditional medicine healthcare practices. It’s also inconsistent with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on Traditional medicine. The Bill is Western-oriented than professionalising and institutionalising traditional medicine.
It should be named the “Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill” to be in harmony with the WHO framework.
Complementary practitioners should come in a section under the Traditional Medicine Bill.
Clause 2: The objects of the Bill.
Define and standardize the concept of Indigenous and complementary medicine practices, provide registration and categorization of ICM practices and institute appropriate rewards for good practice and sanction against malpractice.
Traditional medicine should be defined in its own rights as defined by WHO.
The idea of institutionalizing and professionalising is unclear in the Bill.
It’s erroneous to promote the production of Artemesiaa foreign plant for malaria yet there is plenty of local plants with high medicinal content than Artemesia.
There should be a clause stating that the Minister has to institutionalize and professionalise traditional medicine.
The Bill should be aligned with the proposed National Food and Authority Bill.
Importation of complementary medicine should meet strict verification and regulatory process.
The Bill should promote indigenous medicinal trees planting for agribusiness and environmental conservation.
Clause (V): The Council
The ICM practice council will be established and appointed by the responsible Minister who will be free to appoint as he/she wishes.
Why should the council be appointed by the Minister?
Professional and talented traditional health practitioners should elect their own body, register it annually and pat annual license for it.
Clause 50: The Non-concurrent practice of both
According to the Bill, it is unlawful to practice both indigenous and complementary medicine as well as modern medicine.
The statement contradicts the constitutional rights of the freedom of an individual to practice their professions yet there are no legal restrictions on the number of professions per individual.
People trained in both systems of medicine should not be penalised required to forego one.
Clause 51: The non-use of modern medical titles.
According to the Bill, a person who practices indigenous and complementary medicine shall not use or refer to himself or herself with titles belonging to the practice of modern medicine for which they are not qualified such as doctor and nurse.
The word “Doctor” is not patented anywhere in the world as the Bill is terming.
The issue of titles should be left to the proposed council to decide and the council needs to borrow a leaf from countries with integrated health care such as South Korea.
Part VII General
The Bill provides applicability of minimum standards, code of conduct, particularly respect of patents, ethical principles.
Currently, there isn’t well-defined legislation covering patenting in respect to traditional medicine and procedures.
There is need to develop a generic system for Tradition Medicine Practice knowledge as well as guidelines for Indigenous Practice Research.
The Ministry of Health won’t be able by mandate to handle traditional medicine practices, especially the aspects of spiritually in healthcare.
Traditional medicine and its practitioners should have some autonomy under President’s office or Prime Minister’s office or else under the Ministry of Technology.
The committee suggested that titles should be awarded after training the traditional health practitioners.
The committee clarified that the council is to be selected by the traditional Health Practitioners and the appointed by the Minister.
The committee asked clarity on the dosage and packaging of traditional medicine and how referrals are handled n traditional Health practice. However, no clear response was given.
Further,the committee inquired whether different laws should be made for modern and imported medicine. The THPs voted a yes on this.
The committee clarified that indigenous is the same as traditional. Additionally, it informed the THPs that the name and the Bill, in general, are to bring them closer to modern medicine.
The committee raised its concern on surgeries carried out by the THPs and inquired whether they should be allowed to proceed if they have the capacity. The THPs denied this and voiced that they have no capacity to carry out surgeries.
The committee chair Hon. Bukenya advised the THPs to write a comprehensive document on any other concern that may arise. He pronounced that the Bill is to be discussed till August.
The Chair adjourned the meeting.