“I have been on this journey for 17 years now. For how long shall we wait for a favorable environment that supports our practice and allow our people to enjoy the benefits of traditional medicine?” - Dr. Lydia Matoke, Chair of the Herbalists Society of Kenya
On African Traditional Medicine Day on 31st August 2023, TICAH convened a stakeholders' conference in Nairobi to review the progress made so far in the creation of an enabling environment for traditional medicine to thrive in Kenya. This follows the 2022 conference in Machakos where stakeholders ratified the draft policy and Bill that the Ministry of Health had developed to create a Council that will oversee the regulation and development of the traditional medicine sector.
Held at the National Museums of Kenya, TICAH brought together herbalists, institutions of higher learning, research institutions, representatives of CSOs, Members of Parliament and the Department of Culture to join the Ministry of Health in reaffirming Kenya’s resolve to push for the enactment of the Traditional Medicine and Practitioners Bill, revised in 2023. The Ministry, through the Division of Traditional Medicine, informed the participants that the draft Bill has now been forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for finalization and submission to the National Assembly.
It is in TICAH's strategic plan to work with local communities to co-create spaces for them to employ their indigenous knowledge toward the realization of holistic health. In doing this, TICAH advocates for a conducive policy and legal environment in which communities can freely express and benefit from their indigenous knowledge of medicine. Therefore, the African Traditional Medicine Day provided an opportunity to convene duty bearers and rightsholders to allow for dialogue and agreement on the way forward.
TICAH believes that it is essential to strengthen the voices of herbalists and traditional medicine practitioners in discussions around policy frameworks. During the event, a total of 34 herbalists were present, contributing actively to the discussion. They called on the Ministry of Health to streamline the registration and recognition of their practice. Citing instances where some of them have been mistreated in public health facilities even after identifying themselves as traditional practitioners, they emphasized the need to mainstream traditional medicine into the healthcare systems. The Ministry assured them that these wishes will come true under the new regulatory framework that will be established upon the enactment of the new law.
According to the Ministry of Health, the draft Bill may take up to 6 months at the Attorney General's office before it is ready for submission to Parliament. Therefore, stakeholders resolved to revisit the issue in six months if no progress shall have been made by then.