Don advocates whole plant therapy for malaria, endemic infections, NCDs
A Fulbright Scholar, and Associate Professor of Public Health, Uchechukwu M. Chukwuocha, has recommended that continuous exploratory research work be intensified on efficacy of ‘whole plant therapies’ as alternative treatment for malaria, other endemic infections and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), due to their potential rich therapeutic medicinal properties.
Chukwuocha, who is also the acting Head, Department of Public Health, Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), made the recommendation at the 35th Public Lecture Series of the university, titled “Indigenous Solutions for Global Health Challenges: The Potentials of Whole Plant Therapies as Alternative Antimalarials.”
Chukwuocha, in his 71- page presentation, said that a whole plant therapy involves the intact plant without removing any part of its constituents either by infusion or extraction or any other means.
Chukwuocha, who earned his Ph.D. in Medical Parasitology, strongly recommended that a test and diagnosis must be carried on a patient in an equipped laboratory, before treatment commences, adding that the dried and milled leaves of the whole plant could be consumed orally.
He lamented that one of the biggest problems facing control of malaria had been malaria parasite’s resistance to antimalarial drugs. The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum is infected by female Anopheles mosquito bites.
He said: “Resistance to antimalarial drugs is one of the biggest problems currently facing malarial control. It is compounded by cross resistance in which resistance to one drug confers resistance to another.”
The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS-CONACYT) Post -Doctoral Fellowship award recipient, and TWAS -DFG visiting scientist to the Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Charite University of Medicine, Berlin, Germany, also, advocated strong interdisciplinary and multi- sectoral collaborations; putting facilities to encourage indigenous science and technologies.
Chukwuocha said the Cymbopogon citratus plant (lemon grass) is efficacious in ‘curing’ malaria. He informed that his research, using experimental animals like rodents to demonstrate the efficacy of that glaring fact, even the mutation, was still going on.
He maintained: “We have carried out some studies, demonstrating the potential of whole plant therapies thereby contributing to evidence that may eventually lead to the consideration of adopting and recommending these therapies for malaria prevention and treatment.
“These studies on the antimalarial potentials of whole plant therapies and the results presented are only research in progress, and do not in any way recommend their use for treatment of malaria.”
The academic hinted that between April 2015 and March 2016, he carried an extensive experiments on the above during his TWAS-CONACYT Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico DF, Mexico; and his Fulbright Scholarship at Laboratory of Medical Zoology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst MA, the US, in 2019.
He noted that in order to achieve positive outputs in research and the future it holds for Nigeria, there should be committed synergy between researchers, policy makers and industry owners to ensure that medical breakthroughs in whole plant therapies are translated into policies that would cascade in massive industrial production. “If the process is taken seriously, it has the potential of stimulating Nigeria’s economy and thereby growing the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and aiding sustainable development,” he said.
In her speech, the Vice-Chancellor of FUTO, Prof. Nnenna Oti, described Chukwuocha as a scholar and academic who has distinguished himself, urging the audience to assimilate what the lecturer had presented and the relevant authorities and policymakers to take his recommendations seriously.
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