By Gilbert Munetsi
Zimbabwe on Tuesday joins the global community in commemorating World Traditional Medicines Day honouring the essence of indigenous healing knowledge and products.
The theme for this year is The potential contribution of traditional medicine to Covid 19 response in Africa and comes at a time when the world is grappling with the devastating effects of the coronavirus that has claimed millions of lives within the past year.
A good percentage of people from across the Zimbabwean divide have resorted especially to home-grown medicinal solutions such as the zumbani in a bid to combat the virus.
Spearheading the latest edition of celebrations in Harare is Prometra Zimbabwe (PRZ), the 28th chapter of Prometra International that is headquartered in Dakar, Senegal.
The organisation has a presence in Europe, the United States, the Caribbean and Africa, and is a grantee of such institutions as the Ford Foundation, UNDP, EU and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
Trustee and executive chairman of Prometra Zimbabwe, Tendayi Beaven Munyengeterwa (aka Sekuru Moyo), last week said an exhibition will headline activities lined up for the day as they seek to educate the populace on the importance of the Zimbabwean and African heritage.
“Our mandate is to preserve African traditional medicine, culture and indigenous science through research, education, development, advocacy and service,” Sekuru Moyo said.
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“We seek to achieve this through the protection and rehabilitation of indigenous plant species and this is in partnership with all communities in Zimbabwe, the region and the world.
“PRZ is in the forefront, domestically, of advocating for the use of sustainable herbs and climate-friendly technologies that address the numerous cultural challenges, which are common in most poor communities, particularly in the family context.”
Another trustee and the head of research, James Ndotasanura, who himself is a long-time graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s Medical School, concurred with Sekuru Moyo on the wonders of traditional medicine.
“During my life as a scientific medical practitioner, I have come across diseases and ailments, which laboratory tests, X-rays, scan and imaging all fail to give a clear diagnosis that responds positively to medical treatments,” Ndotasanura said.
“I have always found rescue in Prof Michael Gelfand’s lectures, ‘If medical examination and all investigations do not give you a diagnosis, if a scientific medical treatment does not give you positive sustained recovery or if a new disease pandemic has no scientific cure, advise your patients to seek help from a traditional medicine practitioner of their choice. Ask the patients to come back for review and they would have been cured’.”
Ndotasanura saluted Gelfand saying his bold teaching has been proven true in many cases up to this day.
“We face the Covid-19 pandemic today all over the world and I received testimonies from patients, who have boldly taken herbs being advised on national radio stations and these include the use of zumbani, mufandichimuka and bute. They have recovered faster without going to hospital and prevented its spread to members of their families,” he said.
“Subsequently, I then strongly advise them to continue with sensitisation, wearing of masks, social distancing and getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”
WHO’s regional director for Africa, Ibrahim Samba, is on record calling on all African governments to formally recognise African traditional medicine which has been proven to have played a crucial role in combating multiple and complete medical conditions affecting people.
“I believe both government and the people have a role to play in the reversal of the erosion of traditional medicine knowledge and practice,” Ndotasanura said.
“This way they will be restoring the glory of traditional medicine to its pride and place, perpetuating and strengthening culture and its utilisation.”