The possibility of banning the services offered by herbalists is high following refusal by the service providers to implement a government directive issued earlier this week.
Herbalists in the country have strongly protested at a government directive to stop their advertisements through the media and register themselves within three months.
If the herbalists decide to stick to their guns, any government decision could affect their current customers standing at 70 per cent of the urban population and 80 per cent of those in rural areas.
The herbalists’ stance was announced yesterday in Dar es Salaam by the Traditional Healers Association (SHIVYATIATA), It came a day after the government, through the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children, Ummy Mwalimu, had issued a three-month ultimatum to all herbalists in the country to have registered their services, threatening to take legal action against those who would fail to do so.
The herbalists are up in arms against the directive, saying since they were not doing illegal activities, it was unfair to curtail them from advertising their services which saved the lives of millions of people.
SHIVYATIATA Chairman Abdulahim Lutenga questioned why the government allowed cigarette and alcohol advertisements, which have negative impact to human health, and instead ban the adverts of herbalists who serve many people in the country.
The organization urged the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene in the matter, saying the ministry was not being fair in their decision.
The government has also given six months to those handling natural remedies and alternative treatment in rural areas to improve their services as well as having them registered.
Reacting to the government statement, the chairman told reporters that during the period of five years, from 2010 to 2015, the government had managed to register only 11,000 herbalists out of 75,000.
He wondered how it would be possible for the government to register the remaining 61,000 herbalists within three months while it had failed to do in five years.
He added that most of the registration documents submitted by them to the ministry had been lying in its offices for many years now, calling on the government to take punitive action against its officials who have been dilly-dallying on their job instead of blaming the herbalists.
The herbalists were also not amused by the government’s intention to amend the Act with a view to beefing up punishment for herbalists who operate against the law.
“How can the government think of amending the law for the purpose of increasing the punishment while not a single section of the existing one has been implemented since it was enacted?” he wondered.
The government, in its directive, has also stopped herbalists from using diagnostic machines, saying from today they would conduct an inspection to see if they obeyed the order.
The chairman explained that, due to the development of science and technology, it was unfair to stop them from using diagnostic machines.
The herbalists urged the government to form an institution to cater for them because it appeared the ministry was only taking good care of medical doctors while it sidelined herbalists.
The association stated that they were not ready to see the rights of herbalists denied, as this would have a negative impact on millions of Tanzanians who depend on the services.
The association’s chairman, Abdulrahim Lutenga, stressed that none of their members planned to disobey the government order, but they prayed that their rights not be denied by the government.