UGANDA — The Ugandan government has intensified efforts to regulate traditional medicine production, addressing a growing public interest in these remedies.  

This follows concerns that many people use traditional medicine but are often unaware of the proper dosages, posing potential health risks. 

The National Drug Authority (NDA) is spearheading these efforts, working tirelessly to eliminate the use of untested traditional medicines, according to a local daily, the Nile Post.  

The NDA’s initiative is part of a broader strategy to ensure the safety and efficacy of traditional remedies widely used nationwide. 

In collaboration with manufacturers, the NDA aims to improve the quality of these products through rigorous discussions and clinical testing.  

This partnership is crucial as many rural residents rely heavily on herbal medicines sourced either from local plants or traditional healers. However, the lack of dosage information remains a significant issue, leading to potential misuse and health risks. 

To combat this, the NDA has partnered with manufacturers, resulting in the testing and approval of over 200 herbal medicine brands now available in drug shops and pharmacies. 

 This collaboration ensures that herbal medicines undergo necessary testing and approval processes before being sold domestically or internationally. 

According to Jamil Lutakome, the president of the National Herbalists Association, they are closely working with the National Drug Authority and the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation to have their medicines go through clinical trials despite the many checks they have to undergo before certification.  

Lutakome emphasized that these collaborative efforts are essential for integrating traditional medicine into the mainstream healthcare system. 

The Superintendent of Industrial Value Chains Development at the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr. Cosmas Mwikirize, highlighted that drug manufacturers face substantial financial losses due to non-compliance with standards.  

He pointed out that despite 60% of the population using these traditional remedies, they often pay unfair prices for unverified products. Additionally, untested medicines cannot be exported, further impacting revenue.  

Dr. Mwikirize stated, “If you haven’t taken that drug for a clinical trial, you cannot sell it in a pharmacy, and you can’t take it to the international market. NDA can allow you when they give you a notification after you have completed a bit of the process, but your drug cannot be prescribed by a doctor.” 

To enhance research and improve the quality of traditional medicines, the government has established research centers at various universities, including Busitema and Mbarara. 

 These centers aim to support ongoing efforts in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of traditional medicines.  

The research centers are expected to play a pivotal role in providing scientific validation for traditional remedies, which can help integrate them more effectively into the national healthcare system. 

Additionally, by fostering research and collaboration, these initiatives are expected to improve the standards of traditional medicine, benefiting both the local and international markets. 

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