Health ministry sets up taskforce for alternative medicine

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki

Kenyans waiting for science-backed herbal treatments have a reason to smile after the Government announced plans to establish an agency to oversee management of alternative medicine.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said plans to set up a task force headed by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) were under way, with the aim of integrating traditional herbal medicine into the national health system.

Speaking during Kemri's three-day annual scientific and health conference, Kariuki said the body would set standards for all herbal products and formulate policies.

“They already have a unit dedicated to alternative medicine and recognise its importance.

"Kemri is advanced in looking at alternative medicine, which is impressive. That is why we deemed it fit to set up the task force,” she said.

The CS was, however, quick to say the unit was not meant to displace conventional medicine.

“Kemri will do extensive research which they continue to do and still specialise in, and thus and they are trusted.

"It will also help us avoid quacks from infiltrating the area because as you know there are many herbalists who claim to be specialists with disastrous results,” she said.

Rising recognition of traditional medicine by the scientific community has led to its inclusion in state development plans and policies globally.

Kemri Chairman Yeri Kombe said the unit had laid an impressive foundation in research and was best suited to deliver to those who desire alternative remedies.