Tanzania Approves Herbal Remedies To Treat Erectile Dysfunction
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Patrick Nyembo and His Wife’s Quest
As the rain fell in the muddy soil, Patrick Nyembo and his wife passed through a wet road in a village in western Tanzania trying desperately to find a traditional healer whose medicine is believed to cure one very embarrassing problem, “erectile dysfunction”.
Depressed, the 45-year-old teacher in the capital city of Dodoma had for many years been carrying a secret that was bothering him, no one knew it except his wife. He had limitations in terms of erectile dysfunction (Erectile Dysyfunctioc-ED) a health condition that makes it difficult for the penis to be stable during sexual intercourse. Even though, a year prior Nyembo got information from his close friend that a an indigenous doctor in the western side of Tabora region was healing people with same challenge using herbs.
‘I was so excited to meet this herbal specialist. My wife and I traveled all the way to Tabora and when we met him I explained everything about my problem. He gave me a dose that was a combination of drugs that a bit bitter but completely healed me, ”Nyembo told‘ Health Policy Watch ’in an interview.
“I have spent a lot of money and resources in getting closure to this issue, I had no idea a traditional medicine could completely eliminate this problem immediately,” said Nyembo confidently (Tip: explore our other article “Advances in Traditional Medicine in Tanzania (Ngetwa)” to get more insights on the improvements on natural remedies in Tanzania).
Erectile Dysfunction Herb “Ujana”
After years of going back and forth, the Ministry of Health in Tanzania, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children of Tanzania in 2018 approved an herbal remedy called Ujana (a swahili word for “youth”) to be used throughout the country to treat male impotence problems.
This new drug, which ranges from 300 to 700 milligrams per day depending on the severity of the erectile dysfunction problem, has been proven to treat erectile dysfunction, which doctors associate with lifestyle changes and unbalanced diets, contributing to hormonal imbalance that causes ‘testosterone’ to be very low in men.
Herbal medicines in Tanzania are controlled by the Traditional and Alternative Medicine policy, which requires a field herbalist to register with the relevant authorities.
Ruth Suza, registrar of the Alternative Health Practices Council of Tanzania, said the new policy guidelines in herbal medicine are part of a comprehensive plan for the government to incorporate remedies into a modern health care system, and ultimately prevent the spread of counterfeit traditional medicines.
“Many people claim to treat male erectile dysfunction but not all of them are real healers. Some of them do this to earn money, ”said Suza.
Alternative and traditional medicines are an important part of Tanzania’s health care system. Although there has been a rise in accessibility of modern medicine, most people in Tanzania are still opting to consume home remedies as alternative treatment to various ailments. There are more than 80,000 herbalists working in Tanzania, according to the government.
Ester Innocent, a researcher at the Institute of Traditional Medicine at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, explained that
the Ujana herb, which was tested and approved by the state’s chief chemist, is important in increasing blood circulation during sexual preparation to boost it during the act of sex.
Testimony by Client Who have Used Ujana
Martin Massawe, a 33-year-old radio presenter living in Dar es Salaam with his wife Nora and their son, discovered that something was wrong two years ago.
“Our bedroom adventures were no longer working and as a result our intimate relationship was taking a nose dive. We tried to ignore it but the situation got worse, ”said Nora, a kindergarten teacher.
Massawe became increasingly anxious as he continued to fail to perform sexual acts, at which point his wife advised him to seek medical help.
The year prior, these lovebirds set up a meeting to see Dr. Zehri, a specialist urologist at the Agha Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam, who specializes in helping men with erectile dysfunction and inability to cope during sex. The doctor examined Massawe’s blood vessels using a machine called a ‘duplex dopller’ to determine if he had any circulatory problems.
“I was very confused when the doctor explained that i have erectile dysfunction. He calmed me down by telling me this condition is treatable, ”he said.
According to Massawe, Zehri advised him to use herbal remedies that have recently been approved by the government as part of his treatment and also asked him to make changes in his lifestyle.
“I started taking the drug and within a few days I started to feel better and eventually the erectile dysfunction condition got fixed and things went back to normal,” said Massawe.
Erectile dysfunction is a major problem in Tanzania, affecting the young adults and the grownups, but doctors say a growing number of young people are getting the disease.
Local and Global Insight on Erectile Dysfunction
A study conducted by the Muhimbili College of Health and Allied Sciences in 2013, suggested that there was an increase in the prevalence of erectile dysfunction in the population where 55.5 percent of diabetic patients attending clinics shown by data to have some type of erectile dysfunction.
“The stimulation of sexual intercourse causes more blood to circulate in the penis through the blood vessels and makes the penis erect,” said Dr. Zuberi.
According to him, even healthy men can experience mental stress or lack of masculinity, which is caused by anxiousness or alcohol abuse, “said Dr Zuberi.
While Ujana liberated a large portion of young men with erectile dysfunction issues, investigators claim unscrupulous fake healers have taken advantage of its popularity to rob clients by giving them unverified remedies and claim to be Ujana.
Globally, erectile dysfunction is also a major problem for many people. A 2013 article published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed that in every 4 men 1 under the age of 40 is seeking help for erectile dysfunction was actually suffering from it. About half had extreme condition of erectile dysfunction.
Based on a study on male aging in Massachusetts, it is estimated that more than 300 million men worldwide will be affected by this trend by 2025.
Since many patients with erectile dysfunction are being treated reliably with conventional drugs and herbal alternatives, research shows that, for some, these condition is a symptom of heart disease.
Professor Mohamed Janabi, director of the Jakaya Kikwete Heart Institute Dar es salaam estimates that erectile dysfunction is a risk factor for heart disease in 10 to 20 percent of patients who don’t have other potential symptoms for heart diseases.
And since these risk factors are often associated with older men, erectile dysfunction is usually the major risk factor for heart disease in young teens. “When young people experience erectile dysfunction, we see this as a redflag signaling the presence of heart disease,” said Janabi.
In addition Zehri said, regardless of the type of erectile dysfunction men have, they should see a doctor as soon as possible.
For Massawe, the herbal medicine Ujana has proven to be effective in treating his condition. Although he has learned to avoid getting heart attacks in future, he must make changes in his lifestyle by incorporating new routines in his life such as going to the gym, eating a healthy diet and cut down on alcohol consumption.
From time to time he goes to the clinic for routine test. He and his wife, Nora, are expecting a second child in May.
“One lesson I have learned in life is that you should not give up, because there is a solution to every challenge,” said Massawe.
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