study looks to traditional medicine
bold new plan involving traditional medicine in the treatment
of HIV/Aids is being explored by the Nelson R Mandela School
of Medicine in Durban.
The objective of the project is to identify safe and effective
therapies in the fight against the disease, looking
specifically at indigenous plants used in traditional South
is being closely followed by the US National Institutes of
Health - an agency of the US Department of Health.
scientist Dr Nceba Gqaleni, from the medical school's African
Health Care Systems division, confirmed this week that the US
institute was studying a proposal by the school for a grant to
research the use of traditional medicine in the treatment of
Gqaleni said the
aim was to develop a traditional system to manage the disease
holistically. "We are not only looking for substitutes
for antiretrovirals but also medicines to combat opportunistic
infections associated with the disease."
He also said the
project involved resurrecting staple foods like sorghum, which
were highly nutritious and ideal for patients, but were no
longer being cultivated.
Kagan, deputy director of the Aids division at the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a department of
the NIH, confirmed that preliminary discussions for funding
were under way.
"The NIH is
interested in funding quality research to investigate
complementary and alternative approaches to HIV/Aids treatment
and prevention. This could include investigations of
traditional healing methods," said Kagan, who visited the
school in July.
was very impressed with the quality and depth of the ongoing
and planned studies. Most of my discussions were about
'traditional' HIV/Aids research."
inyangas from Mwelela Kweliphesheya, a development arm of
KwaZulu-Natal Indigenous Healers, would provide information
about the flora used in traditional muti .
The US institute
noted that "many HIV-infected people of colour utilise
complementary and alternative medicines". Gqaleni said
local research supported this, with studies revealing that
most people had visited a traditional healer before consulting
a medical doctor.