PREGNANT women and girls should take seriously the warning by a Siavonga-based traditional doctor against the use of snuff tobacco, commonly known as insunko, to mitigate pain during labour.
The traditional healer is just reinforcing what conventional medical doctors have been saying – that the abuse of the powder poses a serious risk to the abusers’ health and their lives.
Dr Alex Mbelili has attributed the high number of caesarian section operations being recorded at Siavonga District Hospital to the practice by expecting mother of abusing insunko and other concoctions to insulate themselves from pain during labour.
The medical doctors have also warned the women that the insertion of the snuff tobacco in their reproductive organs increases the risk of developing various types of cancer.
Some expecting or pregnant women and girls in Southern Province, and we suspect in other parts of the country, have been putting the irritating powder in their organs when labour is near.
When did snuff tobacco become an anesthetic?
Who told the women that it can stop them from feeling pain when in labour?
It is difficult to understand where some people get such ridiculous ideas from.
There is no scientific evidence that insunko can reduce pain.
Dr Mbelili says the women are also using other concoctions for the same purpose.
As a person who is always in contact with members of his community seeking his services as a traditional healer the man knows what he is talking about.
The abusers and would-be abusers should obey his advice because they will end up in an operating room, where the chances of coming out alive are at 50 percent.
The abusers are also putting the lives of the innocent unborn babies in danger.
Dr Mbelili is accusing fellow traditional healers of misleading the women into abusing the insunko.
We agree with him that such healers should be flushed out and punished for putting the lives of the gullible women and the unborn babies in danger.
There is also need for community health committees to sensitise communities against engaging in such harmful practices.
Besides putting the lives of the abusers and babies in danger such practices exert unnecessary pressure on the national treasury because once the abusers or babies develop complications they will force medical staff to employ conventional procedures aimed to their lives at a cost to the government.
Again, we agree with Dr Mbelili that the irritating powder, insunko, should be listed as one of the prohibited drugs in the country because it has destroyed many lives.
Many women have died or cancer and labour-related complications after using insunko.
It is also an open secret that women and girls, including teens, are inserting insunko in their private parts to appease male sexual partners.
They do this under the fallacy that the powder will raise their body temperature and, therefore, increase their male sexual partners’ pleasure while making love.
But the medical doctors have dismissed the claim as sheer nonsense and a dangerous myth with no scientific support.
Government should target both the abusers and the vendors of insunko for sensitisation and, where possible, prosecution.
This is because it has become a serious public health problem.