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President yet to assent to Traditional Medicines Act

Aloe vera is used by some herbalists in the treatment of malaria.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has said that President Yoweri Museveni is yet to assent to the Traditional and Complementary Medicines Act, 2019, a year since it was passed by parliament.

The Act was passed on 5th February 2019, and it among others seeks to regulate the use of traditional and complementary medicines. It provides for a fine of 20 million Shillings to herbalists and other providers of complementary medicine who advertise or operate without a license.

In the Speaker’s communication to Parliament on Tuesday, Kadaga tasked the Minister for Presidency Esther Mbayo about the Act saying that if Parliament does not hear from the Head of State in the next few days about the matter, the House will go ahead to pronounce it as Law.

Article 91(1) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to make laws through Bills passed by Parliament into Acts and thereafter assented to by the President.

The Constitution mandates the President to assent to the Act of Parliament within 30 days after it is presented before him or her. However, it also provides that when the President fails to sign or return the Act to Parliament within the prescribed 30 days, he shall be taken to have given assent and at the expiration of the given period, the Speaker shall then cause a copy of the Act to be laid before Parliament and the Act shall then become law without the assent of the President.

The act establishes a council responsible for the regulation of traditional and complementary medicines practitioners, defining their roles, issuing those licenses and others.

Ministry of Health has in the past noted that the Act will help crackdown on quacks who claim to be traditional medicines researchers and healers by prohibiting advertisement in the media without a license or clearance by the Council.

The Act also prohibits herbalists from using the prefix ‘Doctor’ giving the Minister of Health authority to declare appropriate titles for traditional medicine providers.

It is also a requirement under the Act for providers to take herbs to the National Therapeutic Research Laboratory to assess the herbs to know whether they have the necessary ingredients to treat a particular disease. The laboratory works jointly with the National Drug Authority after which the Council can issue a Certificate or license.

According to the National Medicine Policy 2015, nearly 80 percent of the populations in developing countries use traditional medicine as a first call for treatment before visiting a health facility.



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