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close this bookTraditional Medicinal Plants (Dar Es Salaam University Press - Ministry of Health - Tanzania, 1991, 391 p.)
View the documentSession I
View the documentSession II
View the documentSession III
View the documentSession IV
View the documentSession V
View the documentSession VI
View the documentSpecial Session of Traditional Herbs
View the documentClosing Session

Session II

Chairman: Prof. E. A. Sofowora
Rapporteur: Prof M.H.H. Nkunya


Prof. P.M. Sarungi from Tanzania stressed on the need to popularize the use of Traditional Medicine in the South in order to improve health care, particularly in the rural areas where modern medicine is inadequate. He mentioned also the need to preserve and, if possible, cultivate those plant species which are threatened with extinction due to excessive commercial exploitation and villagilization schemes. He also emphasized on the need for more financial inputs to enable the collection of information on medicinal plants and their final scientific evaluation.

Dr. Kofi - Tsekpo from Kenya pointed out the need to identify safety, toxicity and efficacy of Traditional Medicinal Plants in the course of the scientific evaluation of these resources. This can be simplified if ethnobotanical data, methods of Traditional drug preparation and formulation and effective collaboration among botanists, phytochemists, pharmacists and pharmacologists are documented. He also commented on the recent reports of a discovery in Kenya of an anti-AIDS drug.

Prof. Boukef from Tunisia outlined the experience of Tunisia in scientific evaluation of Traditional Medicinal Plants. He also cited an example where improved agronomical methods can improve the content of active ingredients in Medicinal Plants.

Prof. Bhat from Venezuela cautioned that no natural product should be discarded as being useless before being extensively evaluated biologically for a number of activities. He then gave eight examples where crude extracts from traditional Medicinal Plants were successfuly used to cure patients suffering from various forms of cancer, some of the patients having undergone extensive treatment with modern medicine but without success. Some had actually been considered to be terminal cases.

Prof. Koumare from Mali outlined the primary health care policy of his country with emphasis on the use of Traditional Medicines. The policy is based on legal, social and scientific grounds. He deplored the negative attitude of some modern medical practitioners who look upon traditional Medicine as being primitive and ineffective.

Dr. Jonathan from Lesotho presented her results on the phytochemical studies of a Colombian medicinal plant. Some of the compounds which she had isolated showed marked antitumour activity.

Mr. Shauri from Tanzania outlined efforts being made in Tanzania to incorporate Traditional Medicine in health care. He deplored the present attitude of medical personnel of referring complicated medical cases from traditional Medical practitioners to modern hospitals but not vice versa. He also deplored the present attitude of medical personnel of referring complicated medical cases from Traditional Medical practitioners to modern hospitals but not vice versa. He also deplored the incorporation of mythious beliefs, such as witchcraft, traditional malpractices (e.g. sacrifices, etc) and the so called godly punishment as a cause of illness.

Dr. Rwangabo from Rwanda gave a brief description of the Centre for Traditional Medicine Research in his country (CURPHAMETRA), and its activities and achievements, citing an example of a scientific evaluation of two Rwandese medicinal plants.

Prof. Nkunya from Tanzania presented his results on the study of medicinal plants for their antimalarial activity, emphasizing on the need for collaborative efforts between traditional medical practitioners, botanists, pharmacologists, chemists, toxicologists, and the pharmaceutical industry. He cautioned the long term dangers of using crude plant extracts for medicinal purpose without extensive toxicological studies since quite a number of hitherto biologically active plants have also been found to be highly toxic to humans.


Dr. Shauri was asked to comment on the methods of standardization and determination of the dosage of Traditional Medicines he gives to bis patients, and how he collaborates with various scientific disciplines, particularly the Traditional Medicine Research Unit.

In reply, he admitted that standardization and determination of the dosage of traditional medical preparation, considering the diverse chemical compositions of these drugs, is difficult and challenging. However, through his collaboration with the Traditional Medicine Research Unit and various departments at the Muhimbili Medical Centre, Dar es Salaam, he had tried to standarized the dosages for drugs used for skin diseases.

Dr. Jonathan was asked on how she had performed the treatments, using the compounds she had isolated.

She replied that her work had only involved laboratory experimentation and ho clinical.

Prof. Sarungi was asked to comment on the production of Cinchona bark in Tanzania. In reply Prof. Sarungi, being assisted by Prof. Kilama from Tanzania outlined the history of Cinchona tree plantations and reported the bark is being exported for extraction of quinine.

Dr. Fernandes from Angola objected to all presentations, saying that African scientists are taking the wrong course in scientific evaluation and usage of Traditional Medicines. Without citing specific methods, he advised African scientists to follow Cuba's, other Latin American, and also Chinese policies.

Dr. Kofi was requested to comment further on the AIDS drug which is reportedly to have been discovered in Kenya, and how the plant had been chosen. In reply Dr. Kofi remarked that the drug had not been obtained from a plant, but rather it is a form of interferon, obtained through genetic engineering. He also said that the AIDS patients had been treated with the drugs are still being followed.

Prof. Boukef was requested to elaborate on the antihypertensive property of his drugs. Prof. Boukef elaborated on how he had carried out the antihypertensive tests.

Dr. Kofi wondered about the methods used to identify the real Traditional Medicine practitioners. Do they pass any exams? Prof. Koumare replied that the real Traditional Medicine practitioners are recognized from within the village societies and are then given identity cards.

Dr. Bhat was requested to elaborate on how he treated his cancer patients. In reply, Dr. Bhat elaborated the methods he used to obtain his extracts and how the curative effect had been evaluated.

Prof. Nkunya was asked to comment on the ultimate goal of his research and what had been the dosage of his extracts and compounds. He replied that the ultimate goal of the research was to obtain chemically pure and potent antimalarial drugs which could then be utilised in malarial chemotherapy. He said that the biological tests are done by parasitologists.