The Role of Alternative Medicine in Kenya: Experiences of a Herbal Practitioner
Githae, J. K.
Wamicha, W. N.
MetadataShow full item record
In Kenya there are about 15 medical doctors for every 100,000 persons, a ratio that is quite low. Due to this, people are bound to seek other forms of health care. For this reason, about 80% of people in the developing country do seek alternative treatment in one form or other. Therefore, the development of alternative medicine in a Country would improve and ensure the availability of basic health. This study was therefore aimed at highlighting how herbal medicines are prepared and applied. The legal/policy framework for herbalists in Kenya is also analysed. Methods of policy analysis are used. Herbal medicine extractions from different plant parts are as follows: the stems (43%), whole plant (20%), each of the leaves and roots (J 0), the bark (7%) and flowers (7%). The costs of herbal medicine is distributed as: procurement from forests (30%), processing (52%) and distribution to clinics (12%). About 5% of the costs goes to resource conservation. Of the 6 clinics analysed, Nairobi has the highest number (80) while Nakuru has the lowest (20) patients visiting the clinics daily. In a rank of 10 diseases, headache (J 3%) is the most recurrent complaint in the herbal clinics followed by; abdominal (J 2%) and cardiovascular ailments (7%). Impotence (2%) and cancer (1%) are characterised by the least complaints. Those most affected by headaches are students with 34% of the complaints and business people (32%) which maybe due to studying and business uncertainties respectively. In terms of cardiovascular ailments, employed people (35%) and housewives (30%) are the worst affected. This could be due to their characteristic taking of high-energy diets coupled with lack of exercise. The students (4%) are the least affected by cardiovascular ailments due to rigorous exercises and their youthfulness. Most frequent abdominal ailments occur in Nairobi district (35%) and Kiambu (19%) while Nyandarua and Nyeri areas are characterised by Lessthan 10% of the cases. Bones and joints ailments show similar trends to those of abdominal ailments. Abdominal complaints usually reflect poor quality of water a population is using. Nairobi and Kiambu water sources usually have high contents of fluorine, which can cause brittle bones. Poor joints in adults are usually associated with gout as a result of consuming high amounts of red meat. It is observed that all sorts of diseases are treated in clinics distributed over all the provinces of Kenya except Nairobi. Hence herbal medicine is feasible. However despite this the Ministry of Health has neither a system of registering herbal medicine practitioners nor programmes for training herbalists. Since Kenya is signatory to the WHO Charter, then it is time to take action.