Columnists

Breaking the language barrier on Chinese pill

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
IT IS not always that women in the hood complain about what is giving them a dose of the blues through the media.If anything, tradition demands that no woman should discuss matters of her health in the public.
But something written in Chinese has brought a lot of worry among them, which is why they are demanding for answers, not in Chinese, of course.
Buying contraceptive pills from a Chinese drug store may seem as cheap as buying a pressing iron from China Mall.
But for many women in the hood, this is proving costly as it is becoming difficult to break the language barrier.
I know Chinese clinics and other business houses have penetrated the hood, but that has not helped women figure out how to interpret instructions written on a contraceptive pill from China.
This is not to say that women in the hood are demanding for an emergency Africa-China forum to understand how Chinese family planning pills are used.
The thing is, it’s not easy to understand Chinese – even if you work for China Mall or Wung Surgery in the hood.
Not knowing how to interpret instructions on a packet of any contraceptive pill can be extremely dangerous.
What if one discovers later that the instructions written on the pack of the pill she has taken says “This contraceptive pill causes more pain than having your hips enlarged.”
Or one discovering that the Chinese instruction on the pack says “This contraceptive pill also helps you know more about how many people visit the Chinese Wall per year.”
What if the Chinese instructions on the pack turn out to mean “Take this contraceptive pill with hot water and a piece of dog meat.”
What if the directions for use on the pack say “The pill will not only help you in family planning, it will also increase your chances of dating a Chinese man one day.”
Well, taking a contraceptive pill with guidelines written in Chinese is not like administering love potion to one’s hubby’s food.
Some women from the hood would tell you that instructions for dispensing love potion are very easy – one does not need to read a lot of things.
In fact, every instruction is given verbally in few words from the witchdoctor, such as “add a little to his food before he comes back from his drinking spree.”
Not all Chinese pharmaceutical companies can give instructions verbally, of course, which is why those without interpreters provide information on the packs in Chinese language.
Perhaps, this is why most men in the hood like using mtototo and mwanya akazi from local traditional doctors specialised in sex boosters.
Needless to say, instructions for mtototo and mwanya akazi are not written in Chinese. If they were, most men in the hood would also be concerned.
In case you are wondering where this concern about the Chinese family planning pill is coming from, recently Government and some medical bodies raised concern over the Chinese contraceptive pill, which further prompted fears among women about its efficacy.
According to a story carried in this paper a few days ago, the Ministry of Health says all medicines that are dispensed in Zambia must have English as the language of instruction and not Chinese, of course.
This means the once-a-month single dose family planning pill, which is accessed by women in the hood at a cost of K30 and K50, must be read in English.
I bet most women in the hood would prefer that all family planning pills, including mtototo for men, are written in the seven Zambian local languages.
Perhaps this is why during Zambia Agriculture and Commercial Show most people from the hood like visiting stands for traditional doctors where different kinds of herbs are displayed in local languages such as mwana apeluke or chamumala.
Well, whatever the problem, women have a reason to complain lest they are sold fake contraceptive pills written in Chinese.
bjboydphiri@yahoo.com

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