The Gulf Today, 9 June 2010
A draft by-law for improving alternative medical practices and regulating the circulation of herbal medicines in the UAE is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Health (MoH).
The law comes in light of the necessity of establishing a general framework for the alternative medical professions and treatments as they influence the healthcare of the community, according to a senior official.
Speaking at the fourth herbal medicine conference in Dubai on Tuesday, Dr Salem Al Darmaki, the acting director general at the MoH, said, “The health ministry requires alternative medical practitioners to adopt necessary procedures for the integrity and quality of their service and to stop malpractices to guarantee the safety of patients,” he added.
“Among the total 8,400 registered pharmaceutical products in the UAE, 400 are herbal medicines,” he said.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, the executive director for Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH, said that international guidelines will be implemented for the registration and exchange of herbal medicines to guarantee their safety and quality.
“Further recommendations are needed for establishing an evaluation system for the herbal medicines and similar products. A web portal will be developed to exchange information about fake herbal pharmaceutical products. The alternative medical practices based on Islamic, Greek, Indian and Chinese traditions will also be monitored by experts,” he added.
Al Darmaki said that various modes of alternative and complementary medical practices have become widely popular in many developed countries, as the natural medicines are safer than medicines with chemical ingredients.”
“A federal law was issued in the UAE in 1995 to register pharmaceutical products derived from natural substances. Being the first Arab country to initiate such an effort to give significance to alternative and complimentary medicines, the UAE has implemented several instructions in terms of their registration and approval since 1998,” he added.
According to him, these regulations are based on strict measures to ensure conformity with the highest standards of quality, effectiveness and safety.
“The UAE established an alternative herbal treatment centre in 2001, to evaluate licensing procedures for alternative medical practitioners and therapeutic institutions in the country”, he noted.
Al Darmaki said that the health ministry’s goal is to come up with recommendations and international guidelines for the alternative medicine registration, organisation and regulation in accordance with the best practices in the field in order to ensure the quality of scientific and effectiveness of the herbal medicines.
The MoH has set up a higher committee, led by Dr Amin Al Amiri and representatives from various health and government authorities in the UAE, to follow up the regulations on the herbal medicines.