Story by Abigirl Tembo, Health Editor
THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has raised alarm over the proliferation of unregistered medicines which are being advertised on social media, urging the public to desist from buying unlicensed products.
Social media is awash with adverts where there is a promise to cure almost everything from HIV, and cancer to sexual-related problems.
However, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has been taken aback by these adverts saying they violate Section 65 of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Regulations.
Chief regulatory officer enforcement Mrs Caroline Samatanga said, “It is true that we have had an increase in the number of advertisements for medicines, especially on social media with the advent of social media WhatsApp and Facebook we have seen an increase in the number of adverts for medicines. Some adverts would have been approved by the authority but a number on social media especially on WhatsApp is not approved.
“Our enabling legislation the medicines allied substances control act has provisions on advertising and also the regulations provide for conditions that are not allowed to be advertised at all. The regulations also talk about the need to have any advertisements approved before they can be aired or put on any platform.
“When we approve, we go through a rigorous process where we check and ensure that the information that is being given up to the public is also truthful and is not misleading. As for Traditional medicines, we actually call them complementary medicines, they are also regulated by our own legislation which is statutory instrument 97 of 2015 this is when we started to control so adverts on herbal medicines or complementary medicines should actually be approved as well so the safeguards we are putting is that we are educating the public that any adverts should show that they have been approved by the authority.”
Traditional healer and herbalist Sekuru Morrison Mafuta also urged the public to be wary of thieves parading as herbalists on social media.
Mafuta noted, “Traditional medicine in Zimbabwe is governed by the traditional medicines practitioners Council which falls under the Ministry of Health and Child Care which registers all traditional practitioners hence people should demand a certificate before buying medicines which might end up worsening the problems instead of curing them,” he said.
Section 65 of the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Regulations, states that “no person shall advertise any other medicine without the approval of the medicines authority of Zimbabwe in writing and any person who contravenes shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or a jail term not exceeding six months or both.”