More research needs to be done on the ability of traditional medicine to cure Hepatitis B and C.
Dr Amiable Ndituyumuremyi, the official in charge of prevention of liver diseases at Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), said this while addressing a national conference of traditional healers.
"Up to now research has shown that traditional medicines can heal various diseases, but in our country there has been no research conducted on the ability of traditional medicine to treat Hepatitis B and C," he said.
"We cannot therefore, confirm whether our traditional healers have come up with ways to treat the disease.
Anything that relates to peoples' lives should base on empirical facts. However, this can be an entry point for further research."
Currently, figures from the World Health Organisation show that Hepatitis B kills between 500,000 and 700,000 persons each year while Hepatitis C kills over 350,000 persons every year.
Some local traditional healers have claimed that they have cured the two killer diseases.
Joachim Nsengimana, a traditional healer in Ruhango District, claimed he had successfully treated over ten cases of liver disease, mainly Hepatitis B and cirrhosis.
He said, "I have until now treated several cases of hepatitis and cirrhosis. I only treat those who have been diagnosed from health facilities. After treating them, I also request them to go back to the hospital to check the progress of the disease. Over ten of my patients have been found cured."
Daniel Gafaranga, the president of AGA Rwanda Network (the traditional healers body in Rwanda)) said traditional healers should work with health centres and hospitals to ensure their clients have been diagnosed properly.
"We have neither the means nor knowledge to scientifically diagnose those diseases. We then have to work closely with health facilities to ensure we know that the patient is Hepatitis positive. If not we can give them medicines that can harm their lives instead of curing them," Gafaranga said.
Meanwhile, Florence Umubano, in charge of traditional healers at the Ministry of Health, said the ministry planned to work with the Huye-based research body, Institut des Recherches Scientifiques et Technologiques (IRST), to see how feasible testing the traditional medicine would be.