Standardise traditional meds, says Zuma

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretoria - The standardisation of African traditional medicine should be speeded up, says President Jacob Zuma.

"I would like to see the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) engaged in an effort to speed up the standardisation of African traditional medicines," Zuma said on Thursday.

He was speaking at the opening of a new, state-of-the-art SABS test laboratories.

Zuma said the country needed to establish a national, standard traditional medicinal materials bank as well as improve the quality control of traditional medicines.

"Studies have shown that about 70% of our total population depends on traditional medicine for primary health-care," explained the President.

SABS CEO Bonakele Mehlomakulu said that due to a lack of standardisation, the harvesting of 771 species of plants not only posed a threat to biodiversity but also to people whose livelihoods depend on the industry.

She added that SABS was already in talks with countries like India that were knowledgeable in standardising traditional medicine.

The new SABS building, which comprises nine laboratories, has been designed to achieve a Green Star rating from the South African Green Building Council.

Mehlomakulu described the building as an important milestone as it will boost the SABS' testing and product certification capabilities and giving quality assurance.

She said the building of the laboratories would put SABS in a stronger position to support the growth of small businesses that need quality assurance in order to supply to larger corporations.

The influx of cheap, low quality products coming into the country was also a concern, as they were unfair to local business.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said issues of standardisation were becoming increasingly important to the industry. Standardisation, he said, was a tool of protection and it was important to lock-out substandard goods.

He said the new labs were environment friendly, which was also a bonus seeing that new energy efficiency (EE) building regulations were coming into effect on 9 November.

Among some of the requirements of the regulations are that all new buildings must have solar water heaters and heat pumps.

Zuma said the event outlined the importance of standards to business, government and society and how it could make a difference to lives of people.

"Standards are often forgotten but are crucial cogs in our daily lives. They enhance the quality of everything that we use and consume. They ultimately ensure continuity in products and services for the benefit of the producer and consumer," said Zuma.

He added that in today's global environment, standards were important to realise and maintain market access.

"As government, we have also observe the growing influence of global, rather than local markets," said Zuma.

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