Health ministry cracks down on errant, quack medics

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The premises of Amani Reflexiology Centre in Muhanga District. Inset, a flyer advertising the ‘wonders’ the MMS chemical mixture that Amazing Health Recovery House is alleged to have been doing. Michel Nkurunziza.

The Ministry of Health has began investigations into a private nutrition firm, Amazing Health Recovery House, that has allegedly been prescribing drugs known as Mineral Solutions (MMS) without certification by the standards board and the ministry.

The decision was made, last week, during an inspection to assess whether pharmacies and food supplement shops had authorisation or comply with laws and guidelines as recommended by the ministry. Those not found to comply were shut down.

“Amazing Health Recovery House, located in Muhanga District, was one of those closed because of prescribing illegal chemical products and expired food supplements, employing unqualified workers as well as operating without authorisation from the Health ministry,” said Edmond Semana, the medicine evaluation and registration officer at the Ministry of Health.

Also closed was Amani Reflexology and Massage Centre, and AlfaVivace Pharmacy for failure to comply with guidelines.

Records from Amazing Recovery show that it had prescribed products that medics at the facility mix on their own to over 250 patients since July last year.

The MMS prescription is said to treat 34 diseases such as malaria, diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, hepatitis, increase CD4 cells for HIV-positive persons, respiratory diseases, infections, prostate, liver, rheumatisms and many others.

“In conjunction with the Police, we are going to follow up on the patients who have been consuming the products and see if they have suffered any health side effects,” said Semana.

The ministry said Amazing Recovery requested authorisation to open a private nutrition centre in June 2016, but started to operate before it was accredited.

The proprietor allegedly hired an unqualified worker, Dieudonne Muhirwa, to mix the products.

In a testimony, Muhirwa told the ministry inspectors and the media that he studied Chemistry and Biology in secondary school and did a short online laboratory course for six months.

The online course was offered by someone in the Dominican Republic, he said, which the ministry noted cannot qualify him as a doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

The ministry asked the proprietor to also submit a copy of a Bachelor’s Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics as well as certificate of registration in allied health professional council but did not, health inspectors said.

Semana also wondered how malaria and HIV, which was being treated free of charge at all public facilities, was being treated at an unusually high cost at the facility.

The business is said to charge Rwf5,000 for malaria treatment and Rwf35,000 for an HIV person to increase CD4 cells with the claim that patients were “cured in one day,” officials said.

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