The smell of herbal concoctions is what first hits your nostrils when you walk into the office of Dr Maina Mwea in Hurligham. In his mid-70s, Dr Mwea spends his time at this office, also a herbal clinic where several bottles are filled with mixtures extracted from various herbs.
As we checked in, Mwea was busy giving some prescriptions on phone to a client who bought some herbal medicine to treat a sexually transmitted disease. Coincidentally, we are here to inquire about the threat of ‘super gonorrhoea’ as recently reported, and how he handles the patients flocking to his clinic for treatment.
“Gonorrhoea was a dog disease but it just jumped the fence because of too-close interactions between man and dog. Someone slept with it and that is the origin of the disease,” says Mwea with finality. “I have encountered many cases, in fact, I was preparing medicine for one of them when you arrived. The disease has become resistant because some pharmacists and doctors are just dishing out antibiotics.”
Mwea is a UK-trained pharmacist who rose to become the Chief Pharmacist at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH). He studied pharmacy in Britain between 1972 and 1976 through a government scholarship. He was born and partly bred in Nyeri County and has over 20 years of experience in herbal treatment. Frequently, medical practitioners refer patients to his herbal clinic.
His views about the venereal disease come days after researchers at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) reportedly found strands of unflinching gonorrhoea in samples from sex workers in the city.
Dr Mwea suspects that gonorrhoea has been hard to treat because people tend to shy away from reporting sexually transmitted diseases until it is too late. He regrets that some patients resort to self-medication after reading some false information online without undergoing any tests.
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“Every disease has an origin, in this case, Nairobi has been labelled as a hotpot; on the other hand, cases of infidelity and wife swapping in Nairobi are becoming common in posh estates like Kilimani and Lavington. The disease starts with one couple and spreads faster,” he notes.
At his herbal clinic, patients must be tested first to ascertain the kind of STDs they have before being treated.
“Majority of the victims show up with documents showing that they have been tested but sometimes we must order for tests so as not to treat the wrong disease,” says Mwea.
When all tests have been done, he says the patient is put on a ten-day treatment schedule, which involves taking some liquid concoction.
“The beauty of herbal medicine is that it clears the system unlike the conventional treatment which sometimes demands patients must visit the hospital several times,” he says. “Herbal medicine is a continuous learning process. I have extended my research on some medicinal herbs in India and even Britain, among other countries,” he adds.
Dr Mwea also treats fibroids, diabetes, high blood pressure, tuberculosis as well as infectious and non-infectious diseases using roots, leaves, and bark harvested from various parts of the country.