Ghanaian expert urges cultivation of Artemisia plant to fight malaria

October 7, 2015 10:25 am 

ACCRA, Oct. 7 — A Ghanaian health expert has called on the government to take steps to introduce the commercial cultivation of Artemisia Annua, a plant containing the active ingredient in the most effective malaria drug available, into the country.

Torgbuiga Yaka IV, registrar at the Traditional Medicine Practice Council of the Ministry of Health, said the home-grown cultivation of the plant would boost the fight against malaria while reducing cost of importation in a malaria endemic country like Ghana.

"My greatest expectation is that the government takes steps to introduce its cultivation so that it cuts down on cost," he told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday.

"The Artemisinin is the only known anti-malarial medicine to which Plasmodium Falciparum species, the deadly malaria parasite, has not yet developed resistance," he said.

Artemisinin is a key ingredient in combination drug therapies recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the treatment of multi-drug-resistant strains of falciparum malaria.

Artemisinin is an extract from the tree Artemisia Annua used in china to cure fever for more than 1,000 years.

Chinese researcher Tu Youyou discovered the method to extract Artemisinin and invented Artemisinin-based Combination Therapy (ACT), which is currently considered the world's best treatment against malaria.

The herb is native to china and Vietnam but is also grown in East Africa.

Tu has been named joint recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of Artemisinin which has revolutionized therapy for patients suffering from the devastating parasitic disease.

The use of ACTs has partly served as a major factor in the huge strides made in combating malaria in Ghana, said Yaka.

According to the Ghana Health Service, the number of malaria cases recorded dropped from 11.4 million in 2013 to 8.4 million in 2014.

The prevalence of the disease has also dropped among pregnant women and children. (PNA/Xinhua)



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