PEOPLE should be cautious about the kind of herbalists they visit for their health problems because most of them are fake and are in it purely to make quick money, says Zambia Medical Association president Aaron Mujajati.
Dr Mujajati said a good number of herbalists were in it for business by taking advantage of the emotional vulnerability of the sick and suffering public to make a living.
“It is immoral and unjustifiable to take advantage of emotionally vulnerable people by claiming that they can heal complicated illnesses like HIV/AIDS, cancer, even Ebola.
“Herbal medicine has its value but it must be taken in the context that it can work,” he said.
Dr Mujajati was commenting on recent media reports that fibroids were as a result of failure by women to reach orgasm.
He explained that for anyone to suggest that fibroids had anything to do with orgasm was fabrication of the truth which was meant to mislead the people for the sole benefit of the herbalist to sell their products.
And Dr Mujajati has questioned the authority with which herbalists have been clustered as doctors in the same category as trained medical personnel.
He said the term ‘‘doctor’’ evoked a lot of trust and reliance from members of public who followed the advice given, and such misrepresentation of truths may lead to people to stop taking medication.
“It is tradition that people go to herbalists first before they come to hospital and such information only contribute to people not adhering to instructions on medication.
“And to bunch us together as “doctors” with people who just pick up and ply their business on the streets or from family tradition when we spend years studying to become doctors is not right and should be reversed, they should just be called herbalists, not doctors,” he said. He said this would help distinguish between research work and traditional beliefs and myths and also ignite recognition in relation to fact.
He said not everyone who can mix herbs acquired or inherited was a herbalist and it should be let known to the public that they were not doctors, but herbalists.
Last week Health Deputy Minister, Chitalu Chilufya, was quoted as disputing assertions attributed to renowned herbalist “Dr” Mampwe that fibroids were caused by lack of orgasm.
Dr Chilufya urged the public to always seek professional help and guidance from qualified medical personnel for correct and accurate information about their health.
Earlier some members of the public raised concern about herbalists who did not offer explanations of cause or even solution to diagnosis but instead insisted on patients buying and using their herbs which were mostly very expensive for an average Zambian.