Health ministry urged to clarify difference between advertisement and information

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Health ministry urged to clarify difference between advertisement and information
Health ministry urged to clarify difference between advertisement and information

Hudson Kuteesa

Africa-Press – Rwanda. There are unclear elements within the Ministry of Health’s guidelines against advertisement of medicine and medical services and, therefore, there is a need to differentiate between informative content and advertising, a top media official has said.

As per the 2019 ministerial guidelines, advertisement of medicines and medical services through various means including the media, street loudspeakers, social media, and so on is prohibited.

In an interview with The New Times, Emmanuel Mugisha, the Executive Secretary of Rwanda Media Commission (RMC), acknowledged that it is unethical to advertise medicines and medical services to attract clients, but warned that there is a need to ensure that such prohibitive measures do not end up hindering people from getting the necessary information.

“The public should be accurately informed. From that standpoint, it is crucial to determine what is acceptable and what is not in the terms,” he noted, as he emphasised the need for clear guidelines to distinguish between information and advertising.

“If, for example, I develop a new product that can assist people, how do I present that as information?” he asked.

On Sunday, December 3, the MoH announced that it had closed down several health facilities, specifically those offering traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine because they were advertising their services and medicines, as well as using unapproved medications and working on premises that are not allowed.

Julien Niyingabira, the Division Manager of the Rwanda Health Communication Centre (RHCC), told The New Times that the MoH is continuing with inspections in the country to crackdown on the facilities that are violating such guidelines.

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