I understand that marketing is the best tool or model through which one can advance sales of products and services. Nowadays, there are several products and services which people offer, including medicines
And medicines are also varied from western to traditional. Even the service providers themselves are also varied, from hospital clinicians to traditional medicine men, also called witchdoctors.
It now looks like provision of medical services either by clinicians trained in western medicine and traditional medicine practised by our uncles and aunties is now a lucrative business. I am not sure if this is not an indicator of our nation’s poor state of health. Surely, one can assume that many people are getting sick; hence the need for more service providers.
Where there are many service providers, competition is also present. It is, therefore, not surprising that both western medicine trained clinicians and traditional medicine people, who are mostly trained by elders or through dreams as some claim, are too busy luring customers who are, of course, mostly patients and other service seekers.
Advertising in the mass media, both newspapers and radios, especially among traditional healers, has become a trend and even competitive. I guess it is a principle of marketing so that those who become known can have their services heavily be sought after. I have heard some of them mention specific areas where they come from, for the sake of attracting unsuspecting customers because such places have for a long time been associated with best traditional healers or witch doctors, for example, Ntchisi, Mulanje and Mozambique.
But one thing that surprises me is the inclusion of some medicines or services on the list, because the Laws of Malawi do not allow advertising for services for such treatments. These are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) also known as venereal diseases.
Laws of Malawi, specifically the Public Health Act Cap.34:01 Part VIII on venereal diseases stipulates in paragraph 55 that: (i) “No person shall publish, exhibit or circulate any advertisement or statement intended to promote the sale of any medicine, appliance or article for the alleviation or cure of any venereal disease or disease affecting the generative organs or functions, or of sexual impotence or of any complaint or infirmity arising from or relating to sexual intercourse”.
Paragraph 56 further states: “No person, unless he (or she) is a registered or licenced medical practitioner, or a state registered nurse, or other person certified by the Secretary for Health to be competent to diagnose and treat venereal diseases, shall for reward treat any person of venereal diseases or suspected venereal diseases or prescribe any remedy thereof, or give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof, whether the advice is given to the person to be treated or to any other person”.
Despite these laws being clear on prohibition of traditional healers advertising on the cure of STDs, among other services, we see/hear every day such adverts by these traditional healers both in newspapers and on radios.
Where are enforcers of such laws. People may need to realise that many people are being given dangerous and carcinogenic herbs by these traditional healers on the disguise of providing treatment for STDs.
It is high time this came to a stop. Enforce the legislation, now.