Health professionals and herbal medicine enthusiasts alike are getting their hands on herbal medicine monograph products, hoping to improve their patients’ health and help them treat ailments.
But there’s a catch: they can only be used in Australia.
“We can’t get our hands on any of these products,” Dr. Ian Young, the director of the National Centre for the Health and Wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People (CNHWAP) told the ABC.
It is an act of desperation that will be seen as a further step backwards in terms of our rights,” he said. “
It’s the way it’s been done since the 1920s and the way we are seeing it evolve in the 21st century is we are just not allowed to have our hands in the pot anymore.”CNHLWAP’s Dr Young said the Australian government’s move to ban herbal medicine was a “huge step backwards.”
“It is an act of desperation that will be seen as a further step backwards in terms of our rights,” he said.
“The reason we are here today is because we believe that the people of Australia have the right to have access to this herbal medicine that is a part of their traditional way of life.”
Health officials, such as the Australian Government’s Aboriginal Health Advisory Committee (AHAC) and Health Services Minister Peter Dutton, have also expressed concerns over the move.
In a letter to the AHAC dated March 21, Dutton wrote that the move to outlaw herbal medicine would “result in fewer opportunities for indigenous Australians and those who use herbal medicine to treat illness.”
“The AHAC recommends that there should be a clear understanding of the herbal medicine products currently available and in production in Australia to ensure that they are safe and effective for use in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders,” Dutton’s letter read.
“These products have been approved by the AHAP for use by Indigenous people and should be considered by Health Australia to be the safest and most effective herbal medicine available in Australia.”
Dr Young said there were “huge” concerns about how these herbal products were being used in the Indigenous community.
“The way they are being marketed to Indigenous people in Indigenous communities is a huge problem because there is no awareness of the product, no information about it,” he told ABC News.
“They don’t know how to use it and they don’t understand how to make it.”
We are very concerned about the way that the products that we are able to access are being used.
“According to Dr Young, he was surprised to see the AHCA’s letter and the Health Minister’s statement, and was even more surprised to learn that there were no plans to consult with Indigenous people about the herbal products they were able to obtain.”
That’s the big problem with it,” Dr Young added.”
What we don’t want is that this is the way in which people are going to access this herbal medicines and we’re not going to be able to make that information available.
“The herbal medicine industry has been pushing for change for some time, arguing that the government should be looking at “how to manage the health, wellbeing and health systems of Aboriginal people” in the future.
Dr Young, who has been advocating for Aboriginal people’s access to the herbal medicines they need, said there was a clear lack of knowledge and “no direction” from the AHAs letter.”
The reason I’m here today, is because of the Indigenous communities that are getting access to herbal medicines, the communities that can’t afford to have their hands in that pot.”