Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | When government declared a lockdown as a measure of combating the spread of coronavirus in Uganda, thousands of parents were not prepared for this directive and had not planned on how to deal with the continuous diseases attacking their children at home in this COVID-19 lockdown.
Alice Nakasolya a 58-year-old grandparent residing in Bwaise II Lufula zone says her first born daughter left her at home with five young grand children and boarded to Mityana village for burial in early March this year and she could not come back after the president had suspended public transport.
She says that now when the children fall sick, she rushes to the neighbor’s small garden to pick some herbs and slowly treats the offspring until they recover.
Nakasolya adds: “In our regime, our parents used to treat us with herbal medicine and we could recover quickly, my daughter is the one who gives my grandchildren tablets but me I trust herbs.”
Rehema Ssendege another 62-year-old grandparent residing in Mau- A Zone in Maganjo says she is looking after six children, two having peptic ulcers, two having asthma and the mentally disturbed last born son whose condition worsened after the medicine that was purchased from Butabika Hospital got done. She resorted to herbal medicine in order to save the boy’s life.
“Me I decided to cook for him a mixture of herbals that I presumed would treat him, and they work up to now, when he takes them, he sleeps and wakes up in his normal senses. “
Dr. Farouk Minawa, a program officer at THETA Uganda an administrator in charge of research on traditional and herbal medicine in the country says the lockdown has generally amplified the reasons of why people need herbal medicines because it is locally available, quick, trust worthy and cheap.
Dr. Farouk adds that the use of herbal medicine is going to be a little bit high because most herbal practitioners work from their homes and they are easily approachable with fair prices depending on the disease yet medicine in clinics is currently hiked.
He adds that herbal medicines are organic, and have some side effects and 20% of the problems can be expected to emerge if people are not directed by the knowledgeable practitioners.
The use of traditional herbal medicine started to erode away in the ancient time when colonialists shaded a bad image that herbs were termed to be witch craft and this changed the mentality of people. Also, the introduction of highly advanced alternative medicines compared to herbal medicines for example: a person taking two tablets in a day and gets fine over the 5 litres of herbs in a week for one to recover. That’s why people hard resorted to alternative medicines…says Dr. Farouk.
Dr. Grace Nambatya Kyeyune, the Director for the Natural Chemotherapeutic Research Institute and also a board member at ND, says she is pleased if Ugandans are turning to using herbal medicines but advises them to seek knowledge from the herbal experts.
She says that if there are side effects, they should report on the medi-safety National Drug Authority platfrom on social media.