HomeNewsHealthRural folk turn to traditional remedies as medical bills surge

Rural folk turn to traditional remedies as medical bills surge

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(File Photo)  Traditional Medicine
(File Photo) Traditional Medicine

As the cost of accessing medical health care skyrockets coupled with drug shortages at most clinics in rural areas, villagers say they have been forced to turn to traditional medicines for treatment.

By Tatenda Chitagu

Usually, traditional medicines like herbs are used to compliment clinical drugs, but the case is the opposite now, villagers told officials from the Humanitarian Information and Facilitation Centre (HIFIC) at a community meeting recently.

Tsungai Shonhai (61), a childcare worker at Vugwi shopping centre in Zvishavane’s Ward 15 under Chief Mazvihwa said many people in the rural areas had turned back the hands of time and were relying on herbs and traditional remedies.

“The nearest clinic is 20km away and people do not have money for bus fare,” Shonhai said. “We go to the clinic and they want consultation fees. After that, they tell you that they do not have drugs and refer us to pharmacies and we do not have the money.

“As such, we end up just sitting at home even though we are ill or move around the woods in search of traditional medicines.”

Shonhai, who is diabetic and has high blood pressure, said her monthly bills for the pills were pegged at $20, excluding bus fares to Zvishavane town, about 50km away.

“Sometimes I put ash in a bottle, pour water, shake and drink because I can’t afford tablets,” she said.

“I also use barks of a tree called Murumanyama which I crush and mix with water. It is a very bitter concoction, but then I do not have any option.

“Poverty makes us sick, because we have a lot of stress.”

Aaron Msutu, an Old People’s Committee chairperson at Indaba weighed in saying many villagers had turned to traditional medicines since they could not afford consultation fees for doctors and feared having their livestock attached over unpaid hospital bills.

“We have turned to traditional medicines when we get ill,” he said.

“Many people die from ailments that can be healed. We are afraid of going to the hospitals because if you go there, they will unleash debt collectors on us for bills we accrued.

“Many have lost livestock to debt collectors trying to recover hospital bills. We do not have money. We used to sell our crops, but on a year like this, where do you get the money from? Our children are unemployed and cannot take care of us,” he said.

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