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TIPS ON MALARIA

  • HOW CAN MOSQUITOES BE CONTROLLED?

    Mosquitoes around the home can be reduced significantly by minimizing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding. Residents are urged to reduce standing water around the home in a variety of ways.

  • HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM MOSQUITO-BORN DISEASES?

    The best way is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.This can be accomplished using personal protecting  while outdoors when mosquitoes are present. Treated bed nets should be used sleeping. Mosquito repellent should be used when outdoor.

  • WHO ARE AT RISK?


    Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of getting malaria. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of malaria. Children under 5 years are at high risk of malaria.
     

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“NIBIMA” A wonder plant for malaria treatment

Clare Banoeng Yakubu-Ghana

When traditional herbalists in Ghana started using herbs  to  treat  malaria,   long  before  the Wintroduction of orthodox medicine, little did they know  the  scientific  properties  of  such  herbs.  One medicinal plant  that has been used  in Ghana  for a  long time  to  treat malaria  is  “Nibima”.  Its botanical name  is cryptolepis sanguinolenta.  A number of communities in Ghana use the plant to treat malaria. In some  local dialects  in Ghana,  it  is known as “Nibima”  in  Twi,  “Kadze  in  Eve  and  Gangnamau  in “Hausa”.

Cryptolepis sanguinolenta is a creeping plant, which has yellow flowers and yellow roots. Extracts from the roots of this plant is what is used to produce herbal medicine for the treatment of malaria. The roots of the luxuriant woody climber, with simple  leaves,  taste very bitter.
 
Nibima was what  local people  in Ghana used until 1975 when  the  Centre  for  Scientific  Research  into  Plant Medicine  was  established  in Mampong  in  the  Eastern Region of Ghana. The Centre then made further scientific studies  into  the plant.

The success of Nibima would reduce imports of malaria drugs  and  make  it  more  accessible  and  affordable  to Ghanaians. According to the Ministry of Health of Ghana, annually  government  spends  about  GHC770  in  the management of malaria. The Nibima drug extracted from the cryptolepis plant which  is produced  in 330 milliliter bottles  and  costs  GHC1.00  ($1)  has  so  far  shown  no adverse reaction. Its cure rate is between 68 to 70 per cent as against the standard cure rate of 90 to 95 per cent. The
centre believes  the cure rate needs  to be  improved. The Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine is now researching to combine Nibima with other anti malarial plants  to make  it more  effective  to meet  international standards as a potential herbal anti malarial from Ghana.

For now Nibima treats malaria only in adults. The centre hopes to further develop it to be able to treat malaria in children.    The  Deputy  Director  of  the  Centre,  Dr. Archibald Ayitey Sittie, said the centre is now moving to convert  liquid forms  into capsules and tablets as well as infusions such as tea bags. The center also hopes to freeze-dry extracts of  this medicinal plant  for easy use.
 
SCIENTIFIC STEPS
Since the 1970s, the centre has been collaborating with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology  in the Ashanti Region of Ghana to identify compounds in the plant  and  to  find  out  its  pharmacological  effects.  A preclinical study in respect of the plant's toxicity was also done. Nibima has been tested on various animal models to see its safety implications while efficacy studies have also been carried out. All the tests proved right. According to Dr.  Sittie  “enough  background  work  has  been  done  to support  the claim  that Nibima  treats malaria  in adults”. In fact it is one of ten traditional medicines that have been registered with  the Food and Drugs Board  in Ghana.

   Dr. Archibald Ayitey Sittie, Deputy Director of the Centre
for Research into plant Medicine, Mampong Akuapim, Ghana.

CHALLENGES
The cryptolepis plant has a huge potential for Ghana  in the fight against malaria but a number of challenges abound. The plant which grows  in the wild now  faces extinction. The  plant  can  be  found  in  some  parts  of  the  Eastern, Western, Ashanti and Volta regions of Ghana and is being used by traditional herbalists and local manufacturers to produce  various  types  of medicines  to  treat malaria.  A survey conducted by the centre confirmed that the plant is on  the  decline  as  a  result  of  too  much  use  and deforestation. “We used to purchase this raw material at GHC1.00 a kilo but as I speak it costs about GHC 4.00 to 5.00 Ghana Cedis a kilo. This quantum jump is making it difficult to sell the product at an affordable price for the Ghanaian public”,  lamented  the Director  of  the Centre, Prof. Laud Okine. He said he believes that herbal medicine should not be expensive. The centre is therefore moving into  the  raw  material  production  through  wide  scale cultivation  of  the  plant  to  sustain  production  of  the medicine  for  the  public. 

The  centre  is  nursing  the seedlings  for  transplantation  into  fields.  It  is  also
collaborating with  out  growers  to  buy  the  seedlings  to grow. “We need to encourage large scale cultivation since a kilo of the plant cost more than a kilo of cocoa”, Dr. Sittie
added. “The future of cryptolepis is very bright as a source of  employment  also  for  Ghanaians  but  of  concern  is competition  from  the  movement  into  alternative medicines  which  makes  the  centre  not  attractive  to funding sources”. Another challenge  is  that Nibima has not  been  made  an  officially  endorsed  alternative treatment  for malaria by  the Ministry of Health of Ghana.
 
PLANS FOR CRYPTOLEPIS PLANT

Meanwhile,  in  a  recent  budget  statement  to  the Parliament  of  Ghana,  the  Minister  of  Finance  and Economic  Planning  of  Ghana  Dr.  Kwabena  Dufuor acknowledged  efforts  being  made  in  the  area  and announced  that  clinical  trials  of  Nibima  would  be undertaken  by  the  Noguchi  Memorial  Institute  for Medical  Research  in  Ghana  in  collaboration  with  a strategic  investor, Phytorica Ltd under a Public-Private Partnership  agreement. The  centre  is  therefore  hoping that sooner than later Nibima will be officially endorsed so that Ghana can become a producer and exporter of the herbal medicine not only to other Africa countries but to the world  just as  the Chinese and Indians.

When  the  Centre  was  established,  it  was  given  the mandate  to  research,  develop  and  promote  traditional medicine practice in Ghana. It was also to collaborate in the collation, publication and dissemination of results of research  among  others.  This  is  to  the  extent  that  the Ghanaian public even today believes that it is a regulatory body.  Initial work  undertaken  by  the  centre was  to  go round and collect information from Ghanaian traditional herbalists  on  samples  of  plants,  recipes  and  herbal preparations,  dosage  and where  such medicinal  plants could  be  found.  Plants  so  revealed  now  have  been documented with prepared specimens after the scientists researched again to validate what had been found. Out of this the centre has been able to formulate about 35 herbal preparations from the 78 medicinal plants collected into liquids, powders, tea, ointments and capsules making the centre  a  wealth  of  knowledge  not  only  on  traditional medicine  but  also  on  information  and  particulars  of traditional herbalists  in Ghana.

During a visit by members of AMMREN Ghana Chapter  to the  Center,  the  Deputy  Director  of  the  Center,  Dr. Archibald  Ayitey  Sittie,  paid  glowing  tribute  to  the
founder of the center the  late Dr. Kwaku Oku Ampofo who was  a  medical  practitioner,  herbalist,  sculptor  and  a musician. He  said  the  founder had  the  co-operation  of traditional  herbalists  at  the  time  who  provided  the necessary  information on  the medicinal plants. “Today, nobody  wants  to  give  information.  The  traditional herbalists say the scientists have been stealing from them. But I think the time has come for Ghanaian scientists and traditional herbalists to take Ghanaian herbal medicine beyond  its borders”.

Research has shown that worldwide, an estimated 200 to 300 million malaria infections occur each year with 2 to 3 million deaths.   90 per cent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, malaria is the leading cause of morbidity, accounting for between 40 to 45 per cent of out patient attendance. It is a leading cause of death among
children under five years and pregnant women and also affects productivity  throughout Ghana.

In  late 2005, Ghana adopted  a new drug policy due  to malaria parasite resistance to chloroquine. Currently, the first line drug for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria is  the  WHO  recommended  combination  therapy, artesunate-amodiaquine.  However,  initial  problems encountered by the Ghanaian public with regards to the side  effects  of  the  locally  manufactured  artesunate- amodiaquine  coupled  with  the  high  cost  of  the  combination  therapy  (  about  $3),  have  driven  manyGhanaians  to resort  to monotherapy  to  treat  malaria. It is therefore hoped that cheaper herbal treatment would
come in to help fight malaria, especially among the poor and vulnerable.
 
 

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