In Summary:
– Researchers Custodia Mandlhate, Emmanuel Luyirika and Tualibu Ngoma said they were concerned that most patients sought treatment in hospitals when the disease was at an advance stage.
– Dr Mandlhate, director of World Health Organisation Kenya said more studies should be conducted to verify the credibility of the herbs used.
– However, Prof Ngoma from Tanzania defended the group, saying they should be incorporated in the cancer treatment programs and training.

Traditional herbalists have been blamed for the increase in the spread of cancer in Africa.

This was revealed during a cancer awareness workshop in Nairobi on Tuesday, where traditional healers were accused of giving wrong drugs to patients.

Researchers Custodia Mandlhate, Emmanuel Luyirika and Tualibu Ngoma said they were concerned that most patients sought treatment in hospitals when the disease was at an advance stage.

Dr Mandlhate, director of World Health Organisation Kenya said more studies should be conducted to verify the credibility of the herbs used. WHO has already for years studied natural medicines & herbs as they are aware some of them works. But also to clarifies which ones does not work, so as to help guide people and doctors in the right direction.

“To validate the effectiveness of drugs administered, we need to do more research on the components used by the traditional healers,” she said at the 9th Stop Cervical Breast and Prostate Cancer in Africa in Nairobi.

Dr Mandlhate said most of the cancer patients first seek treatment with traditional herbalists before visiting hospitals.

SOUTH AFRICA, UGANDA IN THE LEAD

Dr Luyirika, the executive director of the African Palliative Care Association, said research showed that South Africa and Uganda lead in the number of the herbalists on the continent.

“The two countries have found a way of using the traditional healers on palliative care,” he said.

However, Prof Ngoma from Tanzania defended the group, saying they should be incorporated in the cancer treatment programmes and training.

“Most patients seek assistance from traditional healers because they have faith in their drugs,” he said.

He said that in Tanzania, all the herbalists were registered.

“Registering them does not mean that we believe in what they are doing, but to help us separate them from quacks,” he said.

“They may not have knowledge on what they are treating but by registration we consider knowing what they are using for treatment.”

Prof Ngoma’s sentiments were supported by Ms Anne Kori of Kenya Medical Research Institute who called for regulation of the healers.

Herbalists kenya

Herbalists kenya

“Most of our patients have faith in their herbs. We have begun testing the components of the herbs in our laboratories. Some are however quacks out to make money,” she said.

Dr Elizabeth Ogaja, the Kisumu County health executive, said the healers had complicated cancer treatment.

“Fighting cancer has been a problem because these traditional healers give patients different advice from what they are told in hospitals,” she said.