Lesotho has two statutes that regulate the practice of traditional medicine and limit it to registered practitioners. Section 2 of the Natural Therapeutic Practitioners Act of 1976 (35) defines natural therapeutics as the provision of services for the purpose of preventing, healing, or alleviating sickness or disease or alleviating, preventing, or curing pain "by any means other than those normally recognized by the medical profession". Natural therapeutics includes methods commonly employed by homeopaths, naturopaths, osteopaths, chiropractors, and acupuncturists. Section 3 prohibits non-registered persons from practising as natural therapeutic practitioners.
Applicants for registration must be at least 21 years of age, citizens of Lesotho, and recommended as qualified by the Natural Therapeutic Practitioners Association of Lesotho. The Registrar of the register of natural therapeutics must be satisfied that it is in the public interest to permit the applicant to practise. Persons who were practising prior to the date of commencement of the Act are deemed to be qualified. Authorised persons under the Act are prohibited from carrying out certain procedures, including performing operations or administering injections, practising midwifery, withdrawing blood, treating or offering to treat cancer, performing internal examinations, or claiming to be or leading people to infer that the individual is an allopathic physician. The Act also prohibits preventing any person from being treated by an allopathic physician or improperly influencing any person to abstain from such treatment.
The Lesotho Universal Medicinemen and Herbalists Council Act of 1978 (36) followed the Act of 1976. It provides for the establishment of the Universal Medicinemen and Herbalists Council. Section 5 states the objectives of the Council: to promote and control the activities of traditional medicine practitioners, to provide facilities for the improvement of skills of traditional medicine practitioners, and to bring together all traditional medicine practitioners into one associated group. The Council is required to do all that is necessary to attain these objectives and to ensure that every traditional medicine practitioner has a valid licence to practise as such. The Council must also keep a register of all its members. Membership is open to every traditional medicine practitioner who pays the prescribed fee. It is an offence to form or encourage the formation of any other association of traditional medicine practitioners.
Education and training
Lesotho has a training programme in traditional medicine for health workers (6).