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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 16:16 GMT
Anger at Togo's herbal advert ban
By Ebow Godwin
BBC News, Lome

Heads of animals in a market stall in Togo
Many markets sell ingredients used by traditional healers
Togo's authorities say they will enforce a ban on advertisements for traditional medicines and pastors who claim to have healing powers.

Private radio and TV stations have been angered by the move as they say much of their revenue comes from such adverts.

After ignoring the order last month, stations have been given until 18 December to comply or face sanctions.

Traditional healers are also upset at allegations that their medicines are dangerous and do not cure people.

Herbal cures are very popular in Togo where the cost of medical treatment is high.

Gullible

Many of Togo's 60 private radio stations say their very survival is at stake as they earn more than 60% of their advertising revenue from traditional medicine slots.

But the president of Togo's High Audio Visual and Communication Authority, Phillipe Evegnon, has refused to back down.

He told the BBC that while freedom of expression was guaranteed by the constitution, the media regulatory body was legally empowered to protect the population against the diffusion of false information likely to endanger lives.

He said gullible people had been misled by adverts to believe that herbal concoctions, not subjected to scientific medical tests, would instantly cure their ailments.

Some patients had abandoned treatment in hospitals because of promises of a herbal cure.

He cited instances of people suffering from hepatitis and diabetes who died some 48 hours after taking advertised remedies.


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