Reality Zone with Vicky Wireko: Musings over herbal cures and sensualities

Reality Zone with Vicky Wireko: Musings over herbal cures and sensualities
Source: Ghana | Vicky Wireko |
Date: 25-06-2018 Time: 07:06:07:am

Advertisements for herbal medicines as well as supposed treatment centres are becoming too much lately.  Listening to them, some are like stage comedies meant to entertain.

Sometimes the advertisements make it seem as if people’s healing for all forms of illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, impotence, some forms of cancers and even malaria would be cured in no time.  What they are screaming at us is almost like saying, “Why go to a hospital for treatment when your instant healing begins with this or that herbal tablets, root, drink or aphrodisiac?”

Like the infatuation, some people have developed for false prophecies and “pray-for-me”

Churches, the noisy advertisements on our local FM stations and television networks as well as those displayed on billboards are simply nothing but playing on people’s emotions and vulnerabilities.

Noisy and deceitful herbal adverts

They have succeeded in getting vulnerable patients running to them to receive their healings.  The noise gets even worse at lorry stations where vendors move from vehicle to vehicle while some decide to sell in their own branded vehicles with loud megaphones.  Where is the efficacy of their products?

Ours is a society which tends to believe out rightly anything that is put out there in the media.  Once it is on air or on posters and billboards, they must be the gospel truth.  But that is not always the case.  If that was so, then the population suffering from diabetes, kidney malfunctions and prostate cancers for example, should be coming down when graphs are plotted.  But that is not so according to what experts tell us.

For the purpose of this article, I made a trip to the diabetic clinic at our premier hospital, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.  As I sat at the back and pretended I was waiting for a patient, I noticed countless patients, young, old, women, men and even children, waiting in anticipation for their turns and looking desperate as they waited to see a doctor. 

In a chat with a doctor at the Renal Centre also at the premier hospital the other day, I was alarmed to hear that kidney diseases are on the ascendency.  My information was that a lot of patients are coming into the Centre pretty late.  They only report to Korle-Bu Hospital after they had gone for unorthodox medicines or visited some quack clinics which they had heard advertised.

The situation is no different from what goes on at the cancer unit of the same hospital.  Patients with cancers including curable ones like breast and prostate cancers if detected early, fall foul to other unorthodox treatments until their cases get worse before they rush to Korle-Bu Hospital.  A lot of times, we see these unfortunate developments in patients because they were initially deceived by one or two advertisements they saw or heard.

Patient safety

So who can one run to and who can save those who are being deceived by the plethora of noises some herbal advertisements are clogging our ears with?  Who would once and for all stop all those noisy advertising on herbal this, herbal that, aphrodisiacs here and supposed specialists clinics that have swamped our airwaves and on giant billboards but whose efficacy have never been proved?

For the safety of patients lured by false herbal advertisements which only make their conditions worse, we need a strong and effective consumer association to support any existing ones to fight their cause.  We need a body that would champion consumer interest and protect patients from falling to false advertising claims.

But in the absence of an institutionalised consumer association, what roles are the various gatekeepers, ministries, agencies and assemblies playing to sanitise the system and penalise those who fall foul? 

In the particular case of an overload of advertising in the area of alternative medicines and clinics, we need some action from such gatekeepers as the Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Standards Authority, Ministry of Information and the Advertisers Association of Ghana.  Other allied gatekeepers may include Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, Ghana Medical Association and possibly the Council for Traditional Medicine. 

We need for them to bring sanity around us and curtail all these bothersome advertisements for herbal drugs, aphrodisiacs and clinics that have clogged our airwaves.  They are virtually sticking their wares under our noses and blocked our views with giant billboards.  They are all making money at the expense of the health of the vulnerable patients who are falling for them.

The fact is every sick person would chase the wind to get their healing.  But that does not mean that we should allow the money-making ventures of others to override the health needs of some.

There must be some sanity in the advertisements of herbal medicines especially those whose efficacy has not been established by accredited bodies.  The same goes for the so called treatment centres and clinics.  Apart from the false claims they are making on air and elsewhere, not all of them meet the eye.



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