Health Min­istry does not mon­i­tor herbal medicine

Lo­cal stores sell un­li­censed herbal medicine with­out pre­scrip­tion

The Kurdish Globe - - NATIONAL -

Many peo­ple are re­sort­ing to herbal medicine to ‘cure’ hair loss, and buy un­li­censed prod­ucts to help with weight loss. Some of the prod­ucts sold are dan­ger­ous, and could po­ten­tially kill con­sumers.

Weight is be­com­ing a huge prob­lem in Kur­dis­tan, and many peo­ple are look­ing for in­stant ‘re­sults’ to help with weight loss. De­spite the in­crease of gyms and sports ac­tiv­i­ties, Herbal medicine is still pop­u­lar. Ali Sabir is 26-years-old and has been strug­gling with los­ing weight for years now. He reg­u­larly vis­its an Herbal medicine store to pur­chase tablets that help with weight loss. Sabir’s friend rec­om­mended weight loss tablets, and since then he has been pur­chas­ing weight loss prod­ucts for IQD 80,000, which is ap­prox­i­mately US $67.

The herb that Ali pur­chases is known to re­duce ap­petite, and help with los­ing weight. He ex­plains, “I don’t eat break­fast or lunch, and can even stand not hav­ing din­ner as well”. Sabir went on to say, “I used this for three weeks, and lost con­sid­er­able weight, but dur­ing that time I also lost sex­ual de­sire”. The only rea­son he stopped tak­ing the tablets is be­cause he was wor­ried that he might suf­fer from com­plete sex­ual dys­func­tion if he con­tin­ues on tak­ing the tablets.

Af­ter stop­ping the medicine, Sabir re­gains his li- bido. How­ever, his friend who con­tin­ued on the pre­scrip­tion for a com­plete pe­riod as ad­vised by the seller has be­come sick, and is cur­rently suf­fer­ing from mal­nu­tri­tion. As a re­sult of us­ing the tablets for a long pe­riod of time, Sabir’s friend has Kid­ney prob­lems be­cause they were weak­ened sig­nif­i­cantly in the process.

It is very shock­ing that the Health Min­istry of Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government (KRG) does not feel re­spon­si­ble for the dozens of herbal medicine stores in Er­bil that sell un­li­censed prod­ucts, or even ex­am­ine the prod­ucts that are be­ing sold. Dr. Khalis Qadir, of­fi­cial spokesper­son of the Min­istry of Health, says in an in­ter­view with the Globe that his min­istry does not rec­og­nize th­ese stores as le­gal and that is why they are not mon­i­tored.

“If we visit them, it im­plies that we rec­og­nize them,” Dr. Qadir said. “The herbal medicine that come in orig­i­nal pack­ing and are sold at the phar­ma­cies have all passed qual­ity con­trol and are al­lowed to be sold. Any other herbal medicine sold any­where else is con­sid­ered il­le­gal by the Health Min­istry.”

It is not only the health min­istry, but also the mayor’s in­spec­tion teams that have ig­nored in­spect­ing the herbal medicine stores. “We cur­rently do not visit th­ese stores,” says Her­ish Hus­sein, Deputy Mayor of Er­bil. Hus­sein ex­plains that their teams used to mon­i­tor th­ese stores, but now as the health min­istry is plan­ning to es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to mon­i­tor them, Hus­sein’s teams have stopped work­ing on it.

This comes at a time when Dr. Qadir claims his min­istry does not have any plans for re-or­ga­niz­ing th­ese stores. Fur­ther­more, Dr. Ameer Cha­l­abi, Chair­man of the Phar­ma­cists Syn­di­cate, told the Globe that there is no co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the syn­di­cate and the herbal medicine sellers.

The only of­fi­cial body that is aware of the ac­tiv­i­ties of the herbal medicine stores is the Herbal Sciences Union, which ac­cord­ing to Nawzad Tahir, mem­ber of the union, it has not rec­og­nized all of them. “Part of the store own­ers do not have suf­fi­cient knowl­edge of the herbs, and they are not mem­bers of the union,” Tahir ar­gued in a Globe in­ter­view. “More­over, th­ese stores are opened with­out get­ting li­cense from any au­thor­i­ties.”

Tahir, who also owns an herbal medicine store, sug­gests that the health min­istry has to es­tab­lish a com­mit­tee to visit th­ese places and de­ter­mine which stores are re­li­able and which ones are not.

MP Hawraz Khosh­naw, Deputy Head of Health Com­mit­tee at the Kur­dis­tan Par­lia­ment, agrees with Tahir’s sug­ges­tion that the health min­istry should take the re­spon­si­bil­ity of mon­i­tor­ing th­ese stores.

Dr. Cha­l­abi, on the other hand warns that if th­ese herbs are not pre­pared by pro­fes­sion­als and ad­min­is­tered by ex­perts, they may threaten peo­ple’s lives. “In case of any un­de­sired in­ci­dents we will be wait­ing for open­ing a court case against the stores, then we will re­act ac­cord­ingly,” ar­gued Dr. Qadir.

Some herbs are hanged on a wall to dry.

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