WARNING; Use moringa at own risk
MBABANE – The Ministry of Health is against the use of moringa as a medicinal herb with the capability to cure illnesses.
Director of Health, Dr Simon Zwane said the plant has not been approved scientifically, adding that there is nothing the ministry can do to ban its usage.
Dr Zwane was responding to questions following reports that some people have put aside their clinical medication for illnesses such as Tuberculosis and HIV to use moringa.
He said there is nothing like one drug that can cure all illnesses as far as medicine is concerned. Drugs like anti-retro-viral (ARVs) and those used to cure Tuberculosis (TB) are not supposed to be abandoned because this results in resistance and subsequently fatality.
Hospital Administrator at the Pigg’s Peak Government Hospital said she had personally heard that people are using the herb to cure ulcers and sugar diabetes.
Fikile Bulunga said doctors from the hospital said it was difficult to detect the sources of problems because patients who have defaulted medication may not confide to the doctor.
"The doctors that I talked to are not even aware of the moringa plant," she said.
Dr Petros Mengistu, the Senior Medical Officer at the Good Shepherd Hospital said he trusted that the doctors responsible for initiating patients on medication are also capable of doing follow-ups to monitor reactions.
Government has warned that it will apply natural justice on people marketing moringa as a herb capable of curing certain illnesses, according to the Press Spokesperson, Percy Simelane adding that people who used such herbs were doing so at their own risk.
Moringa is one of the herbs that are known to have not only multi-directional activities in the human body, but also help in restoring balance and promoting inner harmony and therefore radiant health.
Its marketers advise on several ways of taking the plant which ranges from boiling and drinking as tea, using as powder and using it as seasoning on food. Its botanical name is Moringa oleifera and it is from the Moringa-ceae family. It is a fast growing drought-resistant tree that can grow up to seven meters in one year.
The moringa is said to be one of the world’s most useful trees ever known to man, and it is cultivated in most parts of the world.
Dr Zwane said it was a pity that there is nothing they can do about this plant until the country puts in place a law that regulates the usage of herbs.
"The moringa plant has been there since time immemorial and one wonders why there suddenly is excitement about it," he said.
Dr Zwane said the ministry sees no need to put the herb to test because it has no medicinal elements.
He said the ministry was concerned not only about moringa, but with other plants and herbs that people marketing them claim are capable of curing many ailments.
Dr Zwane said they were currently waiting on Parliament to work on the Bill that will give them the mandate to control advertising and sale of such.
Adding, he said the ministry will, however, be on the lookout for medical practitioners who advise or prescribe this plant to patients becau-se that is illegal.
The Government Spokesperson said the absence of a Bill that regulates herbs in the country does not mean people who mislead others will not be taken to task.
"There is what we call natural justice and I think it should be applied in this case," said Simelane.
He said government discourages the use of drugs that are not approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
"Government is aware that Africans believe in certain plants that yield the expected results when they use them. We are not against that as long as a person does that for their individual benefit and not marketing it to others, especially for monetary gain," he said.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Principal Secretary said natural justice can be applied by any individual.
Jinnoh Nkambule however said in this case there should be people from the department responsible for protecting people’s health who should be mandated to carry out natural justice.
He said, "Otherwise there wo-uld be chaos if everyone could attempt to do that. There has to be some authority."