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Inyanga offers TB drugs to patients

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By BHEKI GAMA - SWAZI TIMES-20-Jul-2009

MANZINI-A popular herbalist is accused of distributing drugs which should be issued by a qualified medical doctor.

The herbalist gave a Mankayane woman tuberculosis (TB) drugs without taking the necessary tests to established whether or not she had TB.

The pills were brought by her husband who had gone to consult the traditional healer over her continuous bouts of cough. “When the cough continued, she came to this hospital,” said a doctor at Mankayane Government Hospital, adding that she explained to him that she had been coughing for over two weeks. “She then displayed drugs which she said she had been told to take for two weeks,” he said, adding: “It was clear that the drugs were Rifafour, prescribed to TB patients by a doctor and should be taken for six months.”

The doctor said after questioning the source of the tablets, he established that they were issued by the herbalist to her husband. Her husband had gone to see the traditional healer over her sickness, probably after watching him (healer) advertising himself on television as someone who had a cure. “But these drugs should be taken religiously for six months or the patient would develop resistance to TB treatment,” he explained.

The doctor said he could not rule out the possibility of counterfeit TB drugs in the hands of such healers. He said he lost track of the patient as he was preparing a report on the issue to be taken to the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health, but said he was still pursuing the issue, which he said should be addressed sooner than later. He said he wanted the report to establish the source of the drugs so that those involved could be dealt with accordingly. However, he decried drug regulation in the country, saying it left a lot to be desired. “If there is no proper regulation of the usage of medicines, we are at risk as a nation,” he observed.

He said herbalists and others practising traditional medicine should be regulated to avoid a health crisis. “What concerned me deeply was the fact that the population was in danger of developing drug resistance if TB drugs are distributed anyhow,” he said, mentioning that drug resistance led to MDR strain, which is harder to treat. He said anyone was at risk of getting MDR directly from an MDR sufferer.


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