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Herbalists seek government support for research

The National Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (NATHEPHA) held historic national elections in Nairobi to strengthen its association and unite herbal medicine doctors for the next five years.

On November 30, 2023, national officials participated in rigorous elections at Kariokor Social Hall, with the board announcing Paul Okibo as National Chairman, Simon Murangiri as Vice Chair, and Andrian Kamundi as the Executive Secretary.

The Executive Committee, under the umbrella of NATHEPHA, will oversee traditional medicine practitioners and offer support, and training while fostering unity and protecting indigenous medicine as alternative medicines to conventional ones.

After taking over the chairmanship, Okibo said he will unite organisations working on herbal medicines to promote the common good, collaborating with Government officers, the Ministry of Culture, and the Ministry of Health to ensure herbs are recognised and protected.

Okibo said the organisation is now advocating for research on medicine and natural drugs as alternative, cheap, and quality medicines to enhance Kenyans’ health status and wants the public to appreciate and embrace their services.

Herbal Doctor (Hdr) Adrian Muruingi Kamundi, Executive Secretary, National Traditional Health Practitioners Association (NATHEPHA) (centre), flanked by Hdr. Paul Okibo, Chairman, NATHEPHA and Emily Mukomunene, Women Representative, NATHEPHA, on Friday, 1st November 2023 speak to Kenya News Agency (KNA) reporters at KNA office, Uchumi House in Nairobi. Photo by Kibet Cheptumo

The chair said, “We want the public to appreciate and embrace our services, especially for NATHEPHA members who are recognised in the Kenya Constitution Articles 11, 40, and 69 (1).”

He noted that the body is collaborating with the University of Nairobi to train members on herb accreditations to ensure the personnel administer correct and quality drugs to patients.

NATHEPA has cautioned citizens against seeking treatment from unregistered alternative health practitioners, claiming some of them are quacks, urging them to work together to achieve objectives aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of Health and Universal Health Coverage.

To meet its demand for and production of quality services, the chair emphasised the need for funding from health-focused development partners to retrieve forgotten indigenous medicinal plants and foods for replanting and preservation.

The chair underscored the need for members in counties to collaborate with county forest and cultural officers to support Kenya Kwanza’s 15 billion tree-planting efforts to combat climate change. The chair said that by doing so, citizens can earn a living as well as support food production in the country.

“We are also requesting our members to work in tandem with county forest officers, county cultural officers, and other stakeholders so that we can be involved in climate change mitigation measures like planting traditional medicinal plants and fruit plants across our country,” he said.

The secretary of the organisation, Andrian Kamundi urged traditional medicine practitioners and associations in Kenya to register with NATHEPHA to form a robust group of natural therapists who can provide reliable treatment to the sick in society.

Kamundi stated, “Under the leadership of our National Chairman, Okibo, we shall seek an audience with all research institutions in Kenya, Africa, and beyond.”

“I appeal to all traditional medicine practitioners and associations, both local and foreign, in Kenya to register with the national umbrella body, NATHEPHA. This will enable us to form a formidable force of Natural therapists that can be trusted to offer treatment to the sick in society,” he said.

Okibo believes unity will help in improving traditional medicine which will be controlled by the organization.

The organisation aims to make and package traditional medicines that can be used locally and exported internationally on demand.

The organization has urged the government through the Ministry of Health to partner with herbalists and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) to develop homegrown solutions to current health issues.

They say the partnership will help develop local medicine to compete with others made in other parts of the world.

The organisation is requesting the national government allocate a budget for NATHEPHA’s research to aid the organisation in producing high-quality herbal drugs.

Other officials who were elected are Emily Mukomunene (Women Rep), Anastacia Nthusi (Treasurer), Stanly Maiyo (Vice Sec), Nancy Ndubi (Assistant Treasurer), and Samuel Kabuga (National Inspector) among others.

By Ian Chepkuto and Dickson Githaiga


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