P H A R M A P A C T

Presentation Documentation To The Legal Issues Working Group Of The Centre For Traditional Medicines

 

(HFSA. s.t. 2.6.98)

Essential Drugs Programme / Dept. of Health, Pretoria

2 June 1998

MEDICINES CONTROL COUNCIL / DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GENOCIDE AGAINST THE AFRICAN PEOPLE :

WHAT CONSTITUTES APPROPRIATE CONTROL OF TRADITIONAL NATURAL HEALTH SUBSTANCES AND MEDICINES AND WHY IS IT NOT BEING URGENTLY PRIORITISED?

PHARMAPACT, an acronym for Peoples Health Alliance Rejecting Medical Authoritarianism, Prejudice And Conspiratorial Tyranny, of which I am national co-ordinator, have recently formed a historic cross-cultural alliance (to be collectively known as HEALTH FREEDOM South Africa) with various health freedom and practitioner / service-provider organisations, including the ICC (Interim Co-ordinating Committee of Traditional Medical Practitioners of South Africa), and whose interests I intend to protect, and the Traditional Doctors, Herbalists, & Spiritualists Association of South Africa, of which I am a member and whose President has delegated me to represent their interests within the Legal Issues and Education work groups of the Centre for Traditional Medicines. We hereby formally protest the undemocratic nature of the structures of the Centre for Traditional Medicines, including the workgroups, which have not been called by public notice.

Much has been said about the so-called Listing System for all "natural health substances", as proposed by the now disgraced MCC hierarchy and supported, indeed driven, by financially and power-play vested interests both inside and outside of the industry. As national co-ordinator for PHARMAPACT, I have previously argued that the proposals are ill-considered, unconstitutional and illegal (MEDICINES CONTROL COUNCIL REGULATION OF ALL NATURAL HEALTH SUBSTANCES AS MEDICINES: ARGUMENT AGAINST ALLEGED LEGALITY (5598 words dated 3 Mar. 98). This paper is based hereon this insofar as traditional African substances and medicines are concerned and is intended to serve as legal notice to all Group members.

A further report (PHARMAPACT UPDATE: CHEERS AMID FEARS AS SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTER SHUTS-DOWN MEDICINES CONTROL COUNCIL. 29 Mar. 98), is appended, so as to put the listing system into a proper global perspective, as is a further report (ARE YOU PAYING GOOD MONEY FOR NOTHING? Commercial Over-The-Counter Homoeopathy: Taxpayer Sponsored Health Fraud ! Jun.98), included to further expand on the reasons for apparent industry support for the Listing System. We use the word apparent, since many simply follow these unscrupulous leaders unquestioningly, and others are enticed by reward or are coerced by scaremongering of MCC retribution. Either way neither represents popular support.

Whilst we have no desire to bring African traditional healers and medicinal suppliers under any undue regulatory pressure, and we believe that earlier evidence, plus that of allopathic pharmaceutical iatrogenic and nosocomial morbidity and mortality, hold more than sufficient ammunition to defend PHARMAPACT's position that the MCC are acting illegally, the traditional African medicine regulatory double-standard, and especially our exposed evidence of MCC genocidal negligence and ethnopiracy, are issues we are morally compelled to protest, for reasons to be fully outlined shortly.

We are always impressed by how perceptive the general public are when they remark "but what about the traditional African herbs and muti-medicines? In the past, when the African tradition was apparently exempt from first the threat of registration and then the listing system, PHARMAPACT for many years challenged the MCC on the constitutionality of their actions. Specifically, Section 9 of the Constitution (Equality), subsection (3), clearly states that "The State may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including ethnic origin or culture.

Significantly, subsection (5) moreover specifically states that "Discrimination on one or more grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair, unless it is established that the discrimination is fair". The onus in this instance is thus uniquely on the party wishing to discriminate, and hence the MCC/MCA would have to take the initiative and convince the Constitutional Court that the discrimination in the circumstances at hand is fair, which is highly unlikely, given the facts to be presented herein. Let us raise various contentious issues and illustrate how the listings system would inappropriately address them.

In terms of "quality", the hygienic and contamination situation relating to the pavement on which these wares are displayed in the urban setting are of legitimate concern, being as they are, tainted with sputum, urine and faeces from animal and pedestrian traffic, plus a fair measure of vehicular combustion petrochemical deposits. We must however, be careful not to pursue purity to absurdity, as with the pharmaceutical manufacturing standards being insisted on for all natural health substances, which we insist ought logically to be maximally set at those for food standards which items are consumed in more significant quantities and arelikewise responsible for thousands of preventable deaths.

Regarding safety and efficacy, it is appropriate to comparatively evaluate the relative risk from traditional African herbs and substances. Some 75% of the African population are estimated to use traditional herbs, usually in combinations. According to the database established by Noristan Laboratories over 20 years of research; of 350 plant extracts assayed, 79 % showed definite pharmacological activity, and 12 % definite toxic effects. (Hughson, L. Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review, Jul. / Aug. 1995)

Professors Folb and Schlebusch, past chairman and registrar of the MCC respectively, opinioned internationally a decade ago that "the issues of traditional medicines need to be addressed" ( Folb, P et al, J. Clin. Pharmacol. 1988: 28), yet apparently a moratorium exists iro. traditional medicines, in spite of Folb again writing, under the sub-heading Traditional drugs and indigenised pharmaceuticals, that "some give rise to serious adverse reactions, and others contain chemicals that have long term effects such as carcinogenicity and hepatoxicity" (Folb, P, SA Jour. Science, Vol. 85, Aug. 1989).

PHARMAPACT and its allies consider it ludicrous that the professors claim jurisdiction over exotic herbal and other natural health substances as medicines when it is clear that these are impacting positively on health and negatively on medical profits, but not to have jurisdiction when some of the indigenised medicines and eg. tobacco and other unregulated toxic pharmacological substances are impacting negatively on health and positively on medical profits, whilst hypocritically using public safety as a red herring to suppress public access to the former. Surely some serious reprioritisation is called for and the authoritories will have to face up to this dilemma.

Whilst there is little difference between an African medicinal and the exotics, all of which except for the former are currently the target of such vicious regulatory fervour by the MCC, the only difference we have identified, is that the latter have had their problematically toxic items excluded from international commerce for fear of litigation, whereas this process has not occurred with the indigenous substances but for a few bulk commercials. With current budget constraints, we cannot conceive of the listing system justifying the disproportionately high priority afforded it for relatively safe products, when urgent Toxics Lists and educational programmes are the only practical ways to truly act in the consumer's priority interest and save several thousand lives each year, not to mention untold suffering.

Whilst researching this report, we assumed that the morbidity and mortality incidence for South Africans using indigenous medicines would be minuscule, but we were stunned to uncover the shocking scientifically recorded and published clinical observation that "in South Africa, the major cause of death (from acute poisoning) among black (direct quote) South Africans are traditional medicines." To reassure the reader that this was not a typographical error, the editor, a Clinical Professor of Medical Toxicology, added in brackets "(about 50 % of deaths)". (Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicity: Diagnosis and Treatment of Human Poisoning, Williams & Wilkins, 2nd. Edn.1997). That this information escaped the MCC, is not acceptable, it is unforgivable.

Dr. P .H. Joubert, M.D., author of the internationally published article referenced in the above-mentioned textbook has, as Professor with the Dept. of Pharmacology & Therapeutics at the Medical University of South Africa (Medunsa) been responsible for most of the epidemiological work in the shamefully neglected field of local indigenised medical toxicology. In spite of Joubert (and others) relentlessly attempting for almost three decades to draw attention to this serious problem, practically nothing has been done to address this highly suspect apartheid oversight. Who needs a Third Force, when muti-medicine and a MCC blind eye to the problem will suffice?

In fact, some of Prof. Joubert's successors and the medical press have tried to play down the matter, eg. Dr. D.H Brand, is mentioned in an article which refers to follow-up work at Medunsa as suggesting that only a small percentage of overdose or poisoning occurs with traditional medicine. (Medical Chronical, Nov. / Dec.1993) The current department head, Prof W.J. du Plooy also plays down the statistics by interpreting them favourably (personal communication, 16 Feb.1998), which does nothing to speed a solution, but rather tends to bury the problem. Interestingly Du Plooy is a Medical Research Council funding recipient for "Traditional medicines as part of the national drug policy", so the authorities cannot plead ignorance as a result of claimed obscure research.

What then are the facts?

Prof. Joubert in his earliest work (that we know of), undertook a retrospective comparative epidemiological study of acute poisonings at the teaching hospitals of the Orange Free State, 1970-1976, which revealed that among whites, medical drug poisonings predominated, whilst priorities among the developing black community, (direct quote), were prevention of pesticide, paraffin, carbon monoxide (indoor fires) and traditional medicine poisonings . (Joubert, P. H., "Toxicology units in developing countries: different priorities?" J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1982 Jul; 19(5))

In a subsequent project covering 1981-1982 at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, Pretoria, it was determined that whilst 18 % of all acute poisonings were due to traditional medicines, 86.58 % of all deaths from acute poisoning were as a result of poisoning with traditional medicines and it was concluded that "Traditional toxicology services (as found in developed countries), primarily geared towards the management of cases of drug poisoning, are inappropriate to the needs of developing communities." (Joubert P, Sebata B, "The role of prospective epidemiology in the establishment of a toxicology service for a developing community." S Afr Med J 1982 Nov 27; 62(23))

In a continuing project covering 1981-1985, also at Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, it was once again determined that the main causes were paraffin (59 %), but with low mortality (2.1 %), whilst poisoning with traditional medicine resulted in a high mortality of 15.2 % and accounted for 51.7% of all deaths, which were always accidental. Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pains were the most frequently encountered symptoms, while lungs, liver and central nervous system were commonly affected. The traditional healer was the main source (83.4 %), while 11.3 % was bought from African medicine shops. (Venter C. P., Joubert P. H. " Aspects of poisoning with traditional medicines in southern Africa", Biomed Environ Sci 1988 Dec; 1(4))

The main paper under analysis as referenced in the above-mentioned textbook is Prof. Joubert's "Poisoning admissions of black South Africans" (J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 1990; 28(1)), also dealing with acute poisoning admissions to Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, from which we summarise as follows: Overall the major causes of mortality were traditional medicines, responsible for 51.7 % and kerosine (paraffin) for 26.7 % of the deaths that occurred.

When differentiated into fatal childhood poisonings, 72.7 % were attributed to paraffin. When differentiated into adult poisonings, the commonest cause of acute poisonings was traditional medicines at 44 % (followed by pesticides). Of the patients who died, 62 % were diagnosed as poisoning by traditional medicines, and 12.5 % each for medical drugs and pesticides. There were no cases of deliberate self-poisoning with traditional medicines.

It was Prof. Joubert's conclusion that the main issues were the extremely high mortality, and that if the poisonings due to traditional medicines could be eliminated, the overall mortality rate would decrease by + 50 %. The abstract conclusion was that the prevention of paraffin poisoning and poisoning by traditional medicines merits high priority in the health care of the indigenous population of South Africa. (Joubert P.H., Poisoning admissions of black South Africans, J Toxicol Clin Toxicol, 1990; 28(1))

Further vindicating Prof. Joubert's concerns, in spite of counter-propoganda, are the statistical conclusions reached by Dr. E Osuch, Joubert's current successor who extended his work as a thesis ("Toxicological aspects of some traditional medicines used by patients admitted to Ga-Rankuwa Hospital") covering the subsequent period 1987-1992, claiming "more than half of all acute poisoning deaths." Even more recently Dr. Osuch et al have stated that "A large percentage of acute poisonings in black (direct quotation) South Africans is due to traditional medicines." (Foukardis G, Munting G, Osuch E, J Ethnopharmacol 1994 Feb;41(3)).

Of further interest in Dr Osuch's thesis is that 24 different plants tended to recur as causes of these hospital admissions, in our view presenting a golden opportunity for the authorities to educate suppliers and users regarding dose, precautionaries, early poisoning symptoms etc., an opportunity squandered by all concerned, especially the MCC, via TRAMED, and the responsibility rather being borne by PHARMAPACT, at least to initiate the necessary reform, via this and future efforts. We are trying to prepare a toxics short-list list, but are not receiving the co-operation of the authorities in this regard. In the meantime it appears that the main killer in the Transvaal is Urginea sanguinea, previous reference) and in Kwazulu/Natal, Callilepsis laureata. References for the latter are as follows:

Shockingly little or nothing has been done about this unacceptable situation, least of all by those who over the period that this information has been directly available to them and who have been directing MCC policy under the shallow guise (at least to us), repeated ad nauseam, of being the custodians of public safety from toxic medicines and insisting that they have been empowered to control all substances fitting their enacted definition of a medicine. The new transitional authority assumes legal responsibility.

We are presently engaged in ongoing culpability investigations and the processing of criminal charges of gross dereliction of public duty and genocide against Professors Schlebusch and especially Folb and in the latter's case, a further enquiry into ethnopiracy, since Folb has directorship at the University of Cape Town of the Dept. of Pharmacology, the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Drug Policy (WHOCCDP); and the Traditional Medicines Programme (TRAMED) and is in a better position than anyone to be aware of these shocking circumstances, and especially as chairman of the MCC, to be doing something meaningful about them. Further collaborators will be held as accessories after the fact.

In addition to TRAMED, is a Research Group for Traditional Medicines which is also a joint venture between the MRC, the Department of Pharmacology at UCT and the School of Pharmacy of the University of the Western Cape, which is also engaged in ethnopiracy testing of plant extracts at UCT, according to Dan Ncayiyana, Deputy Chancellor of UCT, "to isolate active compounds to develop new drugs." (Electronic Mail & Guardian, 19 Oct., 1997) It is no surprise that the person preferred by the MCC to take over as Chairman of the MCC in June was vice chairman, Professor P. Eagles, Director of the UWC School of Pharmacy, who is currently expanding on Folb's ethnopiracy operation. Criminal charges will be pursued.

Instead of using the 60,000 entries TRAMED database available to the WHOCCDP to "monitor all adverse reactions to medicines in South Africa and investigate national problems of drug toxicity, recommend policy in this regard and encourage the rational and safe use of medicines, including traditional medicines" (as claimed on it's websites), the combined facilities are "presently engaged in large amounts of research based upon the extraction and isolation of active compounds from plants used by traditional healers in the treatment of disease." Gilbert Matsabisa (MCC/ CMC) is busy with "ethnopharmacology in drug development" at the UCT Pharmacology Dept.

Nigel Gericke, a medical practitioner who is a member of the CMC (& Afr. Trad. Med. sub-committee)(sponsored by Pharmacare Ltd), and was the founder of TRAMED whilst working as phytomedicines development manager for S A Druggists states in his CV that he continues to serve as consultant to TRAMED on a voluntary basis, including ongoing research into side-effects and the development of a traditional medicines formulary to encourage the safe use of indigenous medicinal plants, and the development of a database, including toxicology. Criminal charges will soon be brought to bear.

Interestingly, in late 1995, at the request of professor Folb, a study was made by Gericke and recommendations made for the development of a South African approach, yet ironically no urgent regulatory action is being imposed on this sector, which by far represents the major, if not sole risk to public safety from hatural health substances against which the MCC claim to be acting when witch-hunting the international natural health substance traditions. Don't these people care about the deaths of thousands of Africans? Apparently not ! Folb and his gestapo were instead confiscating innocuous substances including, believe it or not, yoghurt acidophilus concentrateand, garlic, parsley and celery. Civil suite will be instituted iro. material damages borne.

Dr. Gericke in the meantime developed his own commercial range of ethnopirated indigenous medicines (Healer's Choice brand) and with his senior at SAD, Bosch van Oudtshoorn, co-authored a new book (Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Briza, 1997)(developed from the TRAMED database, to which it gives no acknowledgement, nor to the traditional healers). Most curiously and irresponsibly this book does not provide an iota of toxicological data for any of the 132 plants featured, in spite of significant toxicities, as if none existed, though the publishers briefly provide the standard indemnity. Civil suite will be brought to bear.

A shockingly similar situation inexplicably exists with the recently published South African Traditional Healer's Primary Healthcare Handbook (UCT, 1997)(Sponsored by Smithcline Beechham Pharmaceuticals), also a product of the TRAMED Project, which, although it provides short token precautionaries for the toxics among the 55 plants featured, simply does not do justice in addressing the enormous problem of acute poisonings and fatalities arising from traditional African medicines. We have to question and protest the deliberate exclusion of an educational toxics list.

Some 3000 plants are in use, 10 % in major use, and of which the most toxic or those responsible for most of the serious poisonings and fatalities are not even featured or identified in these two publications, especially curious considering that they both have their genesis under Professor Folb's directorship and against the claimed public interest, much of which is hypocritically repeated by Folb in the first paragraph of his forward to the manual.

The authorities having no excuse to plead ignorance in defence of their callous inaction in the face of so much innocent human suffering and loss of life, since this is the claimed primary responsibility of the Medicines Control Council, and the traditional African healers and sellers of herbal medicine are not directly to blame. Charges of culpable homocide will be brought against participants.

Why have these "downright dangerous drugs" not been given toxicological precautionaries at every opportunity as with the exotics and called-up to protect consumers? # Many of these substances cross our borders from as far afield as Mozambique, Malawi, Swaziland and Tanzania, so why are the MCC not similarly instructing the Customs officials to embargo these medicinal drugs at point of entry? # Why are MCC inspectors not exercising their functions within the arena of the African herbal / muti shops and markets? Are our African citizens not entitled to equal protection under Act 101, or is apartheid still alive and well amidst a sinister apartheid plot to poison the unsuspecting African traditionalist, now awkwardly come back to nest?

The bottom line is :

For the "listing system" to be implemented, it will have to include the African traditional medicines, or face constitutional challenges, criminal charges and civil action against the enforcing authority. If on the other hand, the African traditionals are forced into the listing system, it will involve the expropriation of a 2 billion rand market from thousands of people who have traditionally earned their sustenance this way, severely restrict free public access to and escalate the cost of these substances to the very people who rely on them most and whom the authorities falsely purport to serve. With an election at hand, the Government cannot afford such confrontational controversy.

Stuart Thomson (National Co-ordinator, PHARMAPACT)

Formal Representative, Traditional Doctors, Herbalists and Spiritual Healers Association of South Africa.

Contact details and more information:

Peoples Health Alliance Rejecting Medical Authoritarianism, Prejudice, And Conspiratorial Tyranny

(Fax and phone 04457-7765)

(E-Mail : PHARMAPACT@hotmail.com)

(Website address; http://www.angelfire.com/biz/pharmapact

REPORT- BACK AND URGENT RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE LEGAL ISSUES WORKING GROUP OF THE NATIONAL REFERENCE CENTRE FOR TRADITIONAL MEDICINES, NATIONAL DRUGS POLICY,

HALLMARK BUILDING,

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH,

PRETORIA.

2 JUNE, 1998.

In addition to representing T/Dr. Phillip Kubukeli's Traditional Doctors, Herbalists and Spiritual Healers Association at said meeting, plus a request by Health Freedom SA chairman, T/Dr. Sindephi Spogter that I represent HFSA (& the interests of the Interim Co-ordinating Committee of traditional Medical Practitioner's Association (ICC) within specific parameters), I also represented PHARMAPACT and based my presentation on existing extensive work and data from this end, in particular our 3 March genocide expose'.

My principal urgent recommendation is that these two traditional medicine alliance partners, if not HFSA itself, positively utilise the indigenous toxicity issue against the system before it is itself negatively used to reverse effect by the perpetrators of these crimes or their recent successors. I suggest a massive march to the police with PHARMAPACT to lay culpable homicide charges against Professors Folb, Schlebusch Eagles and du Plooy, plus any further collaborators in this genocide and it's cover-up. Furthermore, any so-called "work from within the system" should also be considered as collaboration, and if from within our allied ranks, as nothing short of traitorship. Madiba never compromised on full democracy in negotiating freedom, and nor must we, ever, under any circumstances.

In short, the National Reference Centre for Traditional Medicines is a facilitating initiative of the Department of Health, arising out of the National Drug Policy for South Africa. The stated aim is to "investigate the use of effective and safe traditional medicines at primary level". This is to be achieved through the "encouragement of healers to work more closely with the formal health care sector, though not necessarily making them a part thereof". However, as per the WHO, "traditional medicines will be investigated for efficacy, safety and quality with a view to incorporate their use in the health care system".

What does an experienced read between the lines and a look behind the scenes tell us? Quite clearly, the traditional healer's are not central to the plan in the long term, indeed they are apparently regarded as largely dispensable, if not pawns, and only their medicines are of real interest, as witnessed from the foregoing wording of the National Health Policy document itself. The healers themselves are practically relegated to the status of mere lackeys of the formal health sector, as witnessed by the statement "Traditional healers will be encouraged to co-operate with other workers in the formal health sector, particular in programmes such as immunisation monitoring and AIDS management", and as already vaguely stated, "not necessarily a part thereof". Discrimination is unconstitutional / illegal.

Most revealing of all is the unequivocal statement that "Marketed medicines will be registered and controlled". Nothing could be clearer. A further insight is obtained from the outline of the functions of the reference centre which these working group meetings are busy establishing and which will include:

* "development of a national database of indigenous plants screened for efficacy and

toxicity" (already under development at UCT (Folb), UWC (Eagles), etc.);

* "testing for efficacy and toxicity" (to be undertaken by universities which receive vast vested interest pharmaceutical company contracts and grants);

* "compiling a national formulary of Medicine Control Council approved essential traditional medicines" (also underway at UCT and elsewhere ) ; and

* "propagation of medicinal plants".

Who exactly is running the show? Certainly not the traditional healers, though there are a fair share of non-representative opportunists and naïve stooges providing the obligatory window dressing, including in this instance: T/Drs. Simon Mhlaba (Natal Nyanga's Assoc.), Seth Seroka (African National Healer's Assoc.), and Isaac Mayeng (Tramso - Trad. Med. Syst. Org.), Prof. Folb's stooge as strategic liaison person for the traditional healers. Significantly all are on the equally non-representative and non-democratic African Traditional Medicine Sub-Committee of the Complementary Medicines Committee of the MCC. This concentration of influence on both forums illustrates either the deliberate selective nature of the canvassing for participants, or lack of support by the majority. Something is amiss and needs to be urgently addressed.

Seroka and Mayeng were nominated and supported by their own clique to the Steering Committee, and Mhalaba would have joined them were it not for the fact that I actively canvassed for and nominated the inclusion of Chief Nicholas Gcaleka (Eastern Cape Traditional Healer's Assoc.), who was accompanied by an entourage of six of his pupils, who did not quite grasp the need to ensure his nomination. Gcaleka's appointment could be to our advantage as he clearly struck me as the only spiritual figure in the group ("you can't put spirit into a computer"), was my only comrade and is also on good terms with Dr. Kubukeli. There are otherwise only a handful of collaborating traditional healers in total, in my view either naïve or traitors, and they are in about 20% minority to the academics and others.

The only other traditional healer in this group, besides one unidentified youth, was T/ Dr. Joe Chauke, who presented himself as Chairman of the Interim Co-ordinating Committee of Traditional Medical Practitioners South Africa, and claimed to have previously been vice-president to T/Dr. Solomon Mahlaba, also of the ICC, who was not present. A lengthy exchange ensued between myself and the chairperson around the authenticity of the claimed representativeness of Chauke, which ended in a deadlock with the chairperson denying that any party had been refused representation at the meeting. The ICC will have to take responsibility for this misunderstanding, since I was acting on Sindephi's information, but it now appears that the ICC incorrectly approached the CMC chairman, Dr. Makhambene over this matter, though especially being a participant in the process, he should have redirected the ICC to the correct person /forum, but obviously it was not.

Having (side)lined-up the window dressing, the reminder of non-traditional healer Europeans at the meeting ensured that the group-leader would be Dr. Nico Walters of the Medical Research Council, Cape Town (speciality: indigenous technology), who acknowledged to me prior to the meeting that he was part of Professor Folb's team (the third tier in the Traditional Medicines Research Group (TMRG), including Folb's UCT Pharmacology Dept. and Prof. Eagles UWC Pharmacy Dept.). The MRC are closely involved with the WHO Collaborating Centres for Drug Policy and actively support the ethnopiracy operations of Professors Folb, Eagles and du Plooy by way of financial grants. The MRC pride the TMRG with "using modern scientific and biomedical knowledge to investigate medicinal plant extracts and to isolate boiactive compounds for developing safer and more effective drugs".

Also prominently involved was the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research's Dr. R. M Horak, who quite frustrated, informatively pointedly reminded all that "the focus was not intended to be traditional healers, but rather traditional medicines". Dr. Horak is the Manager of the Chemical and Microbial Products (CMP) Programme of Foodtek at the CSIR. The CMP Programme (in their own words) recently launched a major bioprospecting project that is aimed at investigating most of the 23,000 South African indigenious plants for pharmaceutically active compounds, which plant extracts are to be tested by the by the CMP Programme (Bulletin of the Pl. Pr. Res. Inst. Autumn1998).

Seeing this hopeless trend following that of the selective CMC nominations debacle, I, for the record, formally protested that the proceedings constituted a sham of representativeness and democracy and a set-up favouring vested interests, since those accepting nomination to a steering committee to decide the fate of millions were not public representatives, nor did they have a mandate to represent all, or most traditional healers. The convening Chairperson, Lulu Peteni, Deputy Director, Essential Drugs Programme, ruled me out of order, claiming that the only mandate given this group by the earlier group meeting was to elect the steering committee and to establish terms of reference for the future work of that committee which would meet frequently and the present work group which would meet infrequently, once again the usual autocratic top-down approach.

I protested that none these meetings were truly representative, nor democratic, since they were not called by public notice. Peteni replied that the 1996 National Drug Policy publication represented public notice, to which I protested that that was ludicrous and that I was left no alternative other than to withdraw from the unconstitutional proceedings and merely observe. The Chairperson attempted to elicit objections to my observing, received none and I made no further contribution other than after the lunch-break,

I protested the fact that the toxicity issues were being ignored, and requesting that my written submission be officially entered into the record and next agenda, to which I was advised that I should take up my objections with the Dept. of Health and that since my submission did not bear a signature, (just my name), it did not constitute a legal document.

Similar objections were recorded in the minutes of the June 97 Reference Centre meeting, but little, if any measures were taken to remedy the situation. At the recent meeting, members of Chief Gcaleka's group in particular, expressed concerns that their ancestor's gifts would be exploited, if not suppressed by the medical institutions, and T/Dr. Simon Mhalaba clearly expressed his wariness of the database. T/Dr. Kubukeli has never been given access to the database and Folb refused me access on Kubukeli's behalf. Mayeng, Folb and Eagle's main collaborator, who has access, simply dismisses these issues with unsubstantiated assurances that "all the healer's fears will be taken care of".

Unfortunately, most of the healers are naïve as to the money driven ruthlessness of the academic and pharmaceutical interests which are herding them and their ancestoral wisdom and knowledge into a system established to prostitute these and expropriate their collective 2 billion rand crude market in indigenous herbs.

The plan is clearly not to serve the healer, as is common belief. The minutes of the initial meeting state that "the Centre will concern itself with the study of plants with medicinal properties" and that "other issues concerning traditional healers do not fall within the mission of the Centre". It is generally not appreciated that these initiatives were conceived and instigated by the old regime in precisely the way which would cause the least suspicion, and were strategically implemented at the time of political transition, so that when the process started, it would appear to be a trustworthy initiative of the people's government.

The aim for the traditional healers is simply to have them willingly part with their knowledge, previously via database "collaboration", and now via the new trap of "registering claims for cures". There is nebulous talk of protecting intellectual property rights, non-disclosure documents, and contracts to deal with claims, but these are rendered clearer by the necessary talk of "financial incentives for drug leads given to companies", "contracts between companies and healers" and "claims at universities to constitute claims". Peteni revealed that "the function of the Centre was to acquire good quality information and to act as a clearing-house, leaving the rest up to the institutions". Besides the MCC, MRC and CSIR, virtually every university has representation, significantly, usually their pharmacology and / or pharmacy departments. All the ethnopirate's names are there.

The further aim is to expropriate and pharmaceuticalise the local market and exploit the active principles internationally via patented synthesised derivatives, with little or no return for the African people. The June 97 minutes acknowledge that traditional medicines are of economic importance and are seen as an important source of drug leads for pharmaceutical companies.

The key to understanding the takeover is contained in statements such as "only widely accepted plants will be accepted into the formulary", "safety needs to be addressed if a product is sold in bulk", "once the chemical research is done, new intellectual property rights can be registered", "discoveries need to be patented to ensure that the discoverer benefits from further development by pharmaceutical companies", and "patenting is a costly process". These issues raise the hurdles to the extent that only the pharmaceutical giants which have the resources, and not the healers nor the vendors can legally participate in prospering from their ancestoral legacy.

Read in conjunction with PHARMAPACT's 2 June Submission and annexures to the Legal Issues Working Group, and our10 June PHARMAPACT Expose' of Shock Leaked Document, the foregoing provides an analysis of the battle-plan of the forces of Darkness, not only against the traditional African healers and their health substances, but also all natural health substances and the promoters and users thereof.

We are fighting pitched battles for health freedom on many fronts, and my recommendations are that the truly committed strongly reject the listing system and it's allied Trad. Med. Reference Centre and their support structures using every means at their disposal.

Yours in natural health freedom.

Stuart Thomson.

National co-ordinator, PHARMAPACT. 13June, 1998

 

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