David Ssenfuka, the herbalist who claims to have a cure for non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes has announced today that he will not treat patients anymore. He has cited frustration and sabotage from the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).
Ssenfuka’s announcement follows calls by the government to standardise herbal medicines in the country by taking them through a proper scientific rigour or clinical trials so that they are sold anywhere in the world.
The government has also cautioned researchers and innovators to understand that they cannot formulate their own medicine and run the clinical trials themselves. “That is conflict of interest and your findings will not be acceptable internationally. You need to trust the people who are interested in this medicine,” said Dr. Monica Musenero, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation.
In a press conference, Ssenfuka said that he had partnered with professional medical workers to pursue cancer and diabetes research had been receiving threats from the Uganda Cancer Institute-UCI compelling him to reveal contents of his concoction or stop dispensing the medicine.
He also revealed that the laboratories he has been using to test samples before making treatment decisions have started rejecting referrals from his Leonia NNN Medical Research and Diagnostics Centre leaving him with no option but consider seeking help from outside the country.
Already, he says he has written to Rwanda, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia seeking help to have his innovation developed since efforts to formalize his herbal treatments and translate them into medicine that is internationally acceptable in Uganda are dragging.
Until today, Ssenfuka herbal ‘cures’ for both cancer and diabetes are in use under a community use status. No clinical trials have been done to establish their safety and efficacy in humans although studies done on mice by the Natural Chemotherapeutics Institute showed that they have some curative properties.
While he will continue monitoring those that he has already given the herb, going forward, Ssenfuka says they will not be enrolling more patients into cancer therapy until they a green light by government comes or when human clinical trials eventually begin since efforts to have emergency use approvals like it was for COVID-19 therapies like Covidex or any help with quickening the research process have failed.
A letter seen by URN shows that Ssenfuka wrote to the cancer institute on 12th March 2020 explaining to them how he was dispensing medicine at a rudimentary stage without any scientific guidelines for dosage and preservatives. By that time he wrote to the cancer Institute calling for help with scientific expertise and advice, he says he had administered the herb to 37 patients who had been officially referred by UCI for palliative care.
Since then, while patients have been flooding his center, he has never received any form of response from the national cancer referral and research center. But, when URN put this to officials at UCI, they said they have never heard from the herbalists and so far and don’t have any dealings with him. Instead, Christine Namulindwa the Public Relations Officer referred the reporter to the National Drug Authority -NDA.
At NDA however, Abias Rwamwiri, the Public Relations Officer says Ssenfuka’s team was guided three weeks ago on what they require to start doing clinical trials in order to pave way for approvals that will enable them get into large scale production. Rwamwiri clarifies that the entity never stopped him from seeing patients under the arrangement the herbalist is using now.
Meanwhile, on Friday as Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark Cancer day, Dr. Nixon Niyonzima who heads the research division at UCI told URN that a lot of their patients are taking herbal remedies alongside their prescribed chemotherapy.
He says they are seeing this from the toxicity tests that they conduct. He made an appeal to government to help herbalists like Ssenfuka develop their medicines to levels where the dosage is known and the level of toxicity expected.