Herbal Practitioner Gayo Sanga, has his offices in Uyole township, some 10 kilometres from Mbeya City. Mr Sanga hardly talks to journalists. Earlier in the week, CORRESPONDENT PETER KEASI visited Mr Sanga and talked to him. Mr Sanga says genuine herbal practitioners listen carefully to patients’ complaints know exactly what the complaints are all about and then dispense the right medicines. He argues that it wise to rely on herbal treatment because, he says, herbal medicine profession hinges on hands-on training, concluding that good herbal practitioners are as good doctors as conventional doctors. He also argues that it is wrong to scorn herbal medicines, asserting that herbal medicines are as good as conventional medicines. He also argues that science has not given answers to all medical problems, rather it is still exploring. But, he says, because of availability of herbal plants, nature has already given more answers to medical problems than science has done so far…
QUESTION: Your admirers are people you treated but have previously suffered from both chronic incommunicable health conditions and life-threatening diseases. They assert that your products are popular because, they say, of their indisputable efficacy. How do you react to this?
ANSWER: My reaction is that they are testifying to their experiences. What else can I say? Their words sum up their experiences after using our products.
Q :How many health conditions and diseases are you currently focusing on and why?
A : People come to us complaining of pain. For example someone will say he/she urinates frequently at night. Another will complain of severe headache. Another will complain of his/her chest internally “on fire” all the time. Another will tell you of incredible stomach-ache. Another will tell you his soles are “on fire” at night and so on and so forth. From our experience those complaints tell us the kind of problem our patient has and we know the kind of medicine to cure that complaint. We treat people based on our experience. We do not treat people conventionally like in big hospital using complicated and varied equipments. We listen to people and give them appropriate medicines. That is why people who take our medicines say our medicines have indisputable efficacy.
Q: Do you receive people who have previously visited hospitals and used conventional medicines?
A: We have received many people who tell us they have used conventional medicines without success. As I have said, we listen to them and from our experience we know the kind of medicine to give them. This is how we treat people.
Q: We understand SUCOSUDE is an enterprise of humble origins. Is SUCOSUDE incorporated in Tanzania under the Companies Act?
A: Yes SECOSUDE is an enterprise of humble origins. SUCOSUDE is not registered under the companies act. We are a member of Mbeya Food Park. Mbeya Food Park is an entrepreneurial group of fruits and vegetable processors. We are a small enterprise. We are eager to grow.
Q: It is said to do what is right in medicine usually demands conventional medical training. What is your comment?
A: I value very much conventional medical training. But not all knowledge is gotten in a formal classroom you are aware of. There is training you get by doing and you become an expert in that particular field. You call that on-the-job training or hands-on training. In this industry of treating people, sometimes hands-on training is far better than conventional training in classrooms and laboratories.
Herbs are in the fields, they grow naturally in valleys, in natural forests and on mountains. Knowledge about these God-given gifts is passed from one generation to another. While still young you must learn to identify medicinal plants and the kind of ailments they cure. You are trained on-the-job to be very serious and meticulous otherwise you will hurt peoples’ health or kill them. That is why I say that in the industry of medicine on-the-job training is very important and very helpful to the patient. You have no huge book to refer to again and again or a workshop for another test. You must listen carefully to a patient’s complaint, know exactly what the complaint is all about and dispense the right medicine. It may be good to rely on herbal treatment in some cases because good herbal practitioners are a product of hands-on training. Good herbal practitioners are very good doctors. Believe me.
Q: But we hear people, sometimes very learned people, saying nasty words about herbal medicines. How do you react to this?
A:It is very wrong to look down on herbal medicines. It is very wrong to scorn or ridicule herbal medicines. Herbal medicines are as much of medicines as conventional medicines. Remember, science has not given answers to all medical problems. Science is still exploring. I have a feeling that nature has given more answers to medical problems than science has done so far. I stand to be corrected.
For ages, herbal practitioners, the world over — in Latin America, China, India and here in Africa — have tapped into the benevolence of nature and have been curing what otherwise are called incurable diseases. If nature had not been so benevolent by offering herbs, people would be extinct!
Q: What do people who come from famous hospitals tell you?
A: They tell us about their agony; they tell us about their frustrations. They tell us that they were diagnosed with diabetes, obesity, stroke, cancer, ulcers, liver, kidney, heart, lung and ovary problems. If I told you to us some lung and heart problems are very easy to solve you would be doubtful, wouldn’t you? But that is correct. We listen to all people who come to us, we treat them, they get cured. Those are the people who say our medicines are very efficacious.
Q: Your admirers, again, praise you for conservation efforts in Livingstone Mountains. What is your comment?
A : I have said we depend on plants we get straight from fields, valleys and on mountains to cure people.
These medicines you see are, in simple language, the flowers we grow here and in the fields. Conservation is about preservation; it is about protection and giving right upkeep. The ‘flowers’ we grow are species we do not want to be lost. If we are not serious about conservation, then we are not serious about herbal medicine, we are not serious about curing chronic diseases.
Q: We understand one of the reasons your products are popular in Tanzania and beyond is world class processing and packaging.
A: Packaging is important if you want to sell products to informed people, more so if you are dealing with medicines. You cannot gamble with a person’s health. You cannot protect health of the people if you are dispensing things that anyone can tamper with. You see the issue in the world is not so much about content; it is about packaging and safety of the product.
Q: Do you have registered or authorised foreign distributors — in which countries?
A: People from neighbouring countries come for help straight to us. We have no distributors of our products in any foreign country so far.
Q: You are regularly quoted as saying that you wish in your lifetime to see Tanzania developing a product in the tourism sector called ‘herbal medicine tourism’. Can shed some light on this type of tourism you are proposing?
A: There is eco-tourism, isn’t it? There are tourists who come here for safe diving and ocean exploration. They are those who come just because they want to know exactly the history of this country. I believe people can come for some knowledge on herbal medicines and herbal treatment.
I am in this field for decades. I know what I am talking about. Herbal medicines are needed everywhere in the world. People want to solve their health problems.
People with health problems do not have enough information about safe herbal products that can solve their problems.
Tourism is about human beings sharing knowledge; it is about sharing good things not found in one’s home country. Who knows, if we promoted this brand of tourism people from northern or southern and west Africa, or elsewhere in the world, would visit Tanzania specifically as herbal medicine tourists.
The point here is efficacy. You cannot gamble with a person’s health. Think of an ordinary tourist from anywhere with some health condition or chronic disease.
If on promotion we served that tourist with our ‘LANTAN SUPERIOR’ tea, that tourist would be happy because this tea increases power of vision and power of memory. In our opinion ‘DANDELION’ tea cures ulcers.
GAYOLINE, in our opinion, is effective and good for de-toxication. NATURAL FRUITS TEA, we know fights tiredness and headache. Tourists who will benefit from our herbs will be our ambassadors in their home countries. They will urge their compatriots to visit Tanzania and benefit from our herbs. Do you know that people from the developed world go to India for treatment? They will come to Tanzania too if we are serious and innovative.
Q: You say you have been in this field for decades. What else would you want to share with our readers?
A: Randomly, I would say, take the sun seriously. The sun is not only a source of light; it is the source of all life. Do not contaminate soil, air or water if you want to live safely. Good food, doing physical exercises, good hygiene and good mood will save you from many small health problems. Take natural safe foods because they have power to cure ailments. And, if you do not mind, fear God.
- About the writer: Keasi is a professional journalist working as a media consumtant and researcher based in Dar es Salaam. He can be reached at email@example.com or +225 713 466661.