High price of prescription drugs pushes Zimbabweans to herbal medicines

Herbal medicines take-over?: Herbal Centre Operations Director Ezelia Kambuzuma

By Hardlife Samuwi

THE escalating cost of prescription drugs and high consultation fees at hospitals and private doctors has compelled most Zimbabweans to turn to herbal medicines, a survey carried out by Zim Morning Post established.

This has seen the proliferation of individuals and companies selling herbal medicines.

The use of traditional herbs and medicines is common in Zimbabwe, but the trend has increased over the past year as the country’s currency crisis has seen drug prices surge out of the reach of the ordinary citizen.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the number of people who are using traditional herbs and medicines due to the current economic situation,” said George Kandiero, president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association.

Traditional medicine is recognized as a formal part of the country’s healthcare system and is regulated by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).

This publication caught up with one of a fast growing herbal medicines providers Herbal Centre owned by youthful entrepreneur Tinashe Zimunya.

In a wide ranging interview with the company’s Operations Director Ezelia Kambuzuma this week, we learnt that traditional medicine remains widely used in the country and beyond the region.

“We formed the company after  realising that plants have been the basis for medical treatments through most of human  history ,and such traditional medicine is still widely practised today,” said Kambuzuma.

“Herbal centre emerged as the epicentre of herbal medicine distribution in Zimbabwe,” she added.

In 2018 it only started as a small company using only one small office for every department. We have however grown big to the extent of having 15 branches all over Zimbabwe.”

She also revealed that the setting up of Herbal Centre has created employment.

“We have a staff compliment of at least 90 full time employees across the country where we boast of 15 branches,” she said.

“We will give you videos of patients who have come back to us giving testimonies after our herbal medicine have healed them of various ailments,” she continued.

Herbal Centre offers medicine that cure ailments like High Blood Pressure, Sugar Diabetes, Cysts, Ulcers, Kidney problems, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Chest pains among ailments.

The institution also has footprints across the Limpopo with three branches in South Africa.

“Realising that it’s not only Zimbabweans that are in need of herbal treatment, we are now also distributing herbal products to countries like South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana. We have a vision is to provide high quality herbal products all over the world,” she said. 

She said their pricing regime took into consideration the poverty datum line and challenges faced by ordinary citizens to access healthcare.

Interestingly, although some sections of society blasted the use of herbal medicine, President Emmerson Mnangagwa this year authorised herbalists to treat coronavirus-positive citizens.

This is a sign to show government’s trust and belief in the importance of herbal medicine.

This development was welcomed by players in the herbal medicines supply industry.

President of Zimbabwe Traditional Practitioners Association Tribert Chishanyu lauded Mnangagwa’s endorsement.

“Traditional medicine practice is older than science and it is accepted by the majority of Zimbabweans. If modern scientists are given opportunities to try whenever there is an emergency disease (outbreak), why can’t we do the same to traditional medicine practice?,” he said recently.

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