"); NewWindow.document.close(); return false; }

IRIN PlusNews HIV/AIDS News and information service | Southern Africa | ZAMBIA: AIDS herbal remedies come under microscope | Care Treatment, Prevention Research, Other | News Items
Saturday 27 May 2006
Home About PlusNews Country Profiles News Briefs Special Reports Subscribe Archive IRINnews


East Africa
Great Lakes
Horn of Africa
Southern Africa
·South Africa
West Africa
RSS - News Briefs


PlusNews E-mail Subscription

ZAMBIA: AIDS herbal remedies come under microscope

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Traditional and western medicines seek to join hands against AIDS

JOHANNESBURG, 20 October (PLUSNEWS) - Zambia has officially launched a clinical trial to verify the efficacy of traditional medicines that claim to cure HIV/AIDS, the country's National AIDS Council (NAC) confirmed on Wednesday.

Justin Mwiinga, NAC donor coordinator and public relations manager, said the tests were being conducted on 25 HIV-positive respondents over a three-month period, using guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"Many so-called AIDS cures have emerged since the advent of the pandemic in Zambia, so these trials do prove useful to corroborate whether or not such claims hold any truth. US $56,000 has been allocated to the tests and, in line with WHO recommendations, we will monitor patients according to their CD4 count (which measures the strength of the immune system), viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) and check for side effects," Mwiinga told PlusNews.

The NAC noted that the trials had been well-received by local traditional practitioners, with 15 herbal remedies initially submitted for preliminary observation by a technical working team that included experts from Lusaka's University Teaching Hospital.

Only three formulations qualified for the final trials, including the widely publicised "Sondashi therapy" created by the country's former works and supply minister, Ludwig Sondashi.

Sondashi was in the spotlight in 2002 when he announced at a local workshop on progress in anti-AIDS treatments that chronic syphilis patients and HIV-positive people were being cured by his natural remedies after conventional medicine had failed.

Doctor Mannasseh Phiri, the chief medical officer of the 'Company Clinic' in Kitwe, in the Copperbelt province, said the trials were a welcome move, as they would help the public distinguish between "crack-pot" claims and beneficial therapies.

"To some degree, these claims have actually influenced people's attitudes towards scientifically proven antiretroviral (ARV) drugs - cases do also exist where patients have abandoned their ARVs to take up traditional remedies," Phiri pointed out.

He warned that irrational shifts from ARVs to traditional medicines could place HIV-positive people at risk of developing resistance to their former treatment combinations.

"But it is understandable that the thought of a quick solution would be tempting to some HIV-positive people, especially because these proposed herbal formulations do not require the life-long commitment and strict adherence that antiretrovirals do," Phiri told PlusNews.

Free anti-AIDS drugs are now widely available from Zambia's public healthcare facilities, but three years ago the cost in comparison to traditional medicines put them beyond the reach of many people living with HIV/AIDS. When former works and supply minister Sondashi was charging his clients just US $58 for a "cure" that only took two to three weeks of treatment, ARVs cost around US $250 per month for the rest of the patient's life.

"Although [we] western practitioners are often accused of not putting our support behind traditional medicines, we are still excited about the clinical trials, and if the results prove positive we will put our efforts into making the formulations available to the public," Phiri commented.

The NAC said the trials would yield partial results within three months, but this should be enough to reinforce or discredit the efficacy of the herbal remedies.

"Ideally, the trials should be conducted over a longer period, as some remedies are taken for more than three months, but due to financial constraints we are working within the given timeframe," the NAC's Mwiinga concluded.


Recent ZAMBIA Reports
A snip in time can save lives,  16/Mar/06
Risky business - Fish for Sex,  8/Mar/06
ARV rollout - quality not quantity?,  13/Feb/06
Promising new combination therapy reduces MTCT,  26/Jan/06
Community benefits from free ARVs,  13/Sep/05
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

PlusNews does not take responsibility for info in links supplied.

[Back] [Home Page]

Click here to send any feedback, comments or questions you have about PlusNews Website or if you prefer you can send an Email to Webmaster

Copyright © IRIN 2006
The material contained on www.PlusNews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.
All PlusNews material may be reposted or reprinted free-of-charge; refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.