Govt requested to soften rules

ABU DHABI — Non-availability of herbal and traditional medicines is hampering the profession, complain alternative medicine practitioners.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sat 25 Jun 2005, 10:32 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:09 PM

“We are like an army without weapons. We have the licence to practise but the medicines that we prescribe are not available in the country,” said Dr Rahman H, a private Ayurvedic doctor.

According to him, the authorities should relax regulations on these medicines.

Commenting on the non-availability of herbal drugs in pharmacies, Dr Mohammed Abuelkhair, Drug Consultant Adviser at the General Authority for Health services (GAHS) for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi said that most of these products are not registered at the Ministry of Health.

“As per the law, only registered medicines can be sold at pharmacies. Currently there are only 150 herbal drugs that have passed the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) guidelines and they are available at our pharmacies.”

A medical expert at the Ministry of Health said that the ministry has set strict criteria for approving herbal drugs in that only companies that have a GMP as approved by the World Health Organisation can import medicines to UAE.

“Moreover, there are many products that claim exaggerated results having no medical evidence. The ministry cannot approve such medicines without conducting an outcome study to evaluate their efficacy under various conditions,” said the expert. “But concerning the practice of alternative treatments, the Ministry of Health has a strict evaluation process for licensing the alternative medicine practitioners by which doctors have to pass a Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine Evaluation Exam,” he added.

However, alternative medical doctors say that they cannot make full use of their licence in the wake of scarcity of herbal medicines, especially the traditional recipes.

Complained a practitioner: “I am not a satisfied practitioner. When I prescribe medicines for my patients, I ask them to hunt for it may be from some supermarkets or back from their countries.”

He noted that his patients are compelled to bring the medicines in bulk from their home countries to complete a course of treatment that can last up to months. “The medicines are not registered with the ministry of health and hence they are not considered as drugs,” he added.

Echoing the same problem, Rema Rakesh, a housewife, complained that every time her Ayurvedic mixtures get over, she has to rely on her friends or relatives who are coming from India.

A responsible source at the ministry said that last week the curative department had called for a meeting of Ayurvedic and homeopathic doctors to discuss the problem of non-availability of medicines. “We are looking into ways to help the herbal and traditional medicine doctors and have asked them for a list of medicines that can be made available in the country,” the source said.

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