USE OF THE PLANT ARTEMISIA ANNUA AS A NATURAL ANTI-MALARIAL HERB IN ARBAMINCH TOWN
Background: The estimated malaria cases per annum in Ethiopia are about 4-5 million. Chemotherapy is a major element of malaria control. Because the WHO recommended anti-malarial, Artemisinin combination therapy, is expensive and the health service coverage in the country is low, the practical use of this drug for the treatment of malaria will be restricted to the small segment of the population. Therefore, it is high time to look for other cheap and effective alternatives to treat malaria, traditional medicine being one of the areas to be explored.
Objective: To assess the extent of use and perceived effectiveness as well as the adverse effects of the plant Artemisia Annua as a natural ant-malarial herb in Arbaminch town.
Methods: A qualitative study involving health workers, users of the herb, natural medicine practitioners, university professors, and a researcher on traditional medicine meant, to explore the use of the plant Artemisia Annua as an anti-malarial herb was carried out. Sampling was purposive. In addition, a cross-sectional household survey was conducted to assess malaria-related health seeking behavior. Systematic sampling technique was employed. The study was done in Arbaminch town in 2006.
Results: The qualitative study revealed a high level of acceptance and utilization of the herb. Similarly, the quantitative study showed that 22.4% of malaria cases in the previous year used the herb as a treatment. The outcome of the treatment was effective with a cure rate of 91.8% with no major adverse effect. The treatment modality was clear and well-understood at all levels of the study subjects.
Conclusion: The effectiveness of the herb in treating malaria and the absence of major adverse effects created a high level of utilization. Therefore policy, regulatory mechanisms, and guidelines should be formulated for the use of the herb. Safety, efficacy and quality assessment on the herb should continue. Mechanisms for integrating the herb with modern health care system, should be studied.