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Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2007 May; 7(5):313.In Zambia, widespread promotion of claims that herbal remedies can cure HIV/AIDS have been making individuals with HIV/AIDS abandon their antiretroviral therapy for ineffective drugs, the Network of Zambian People Living with HIV and AIDS has warned. Miriam Banda of the Network told journalists that both print and electronic media in the country have been persistently carrying advertisements and news stories that bring false hope to people living with HIV/AIDS. It is unclear how many people have been leaving antiretroviral programmes in the country as a result of these claims. At least 1.1 million people of Zambia's 11.6 million population have HIV/AIDS, which has devastated the economy and decreased life expectancy at birth to less than 40 years. (excerpt)
ESSENTIAL DRUGS MONITOR. 1991; (11):15-7.The WHO Programme on Traditional Medicine has joined WHO's global program on drug management and policies because there is a need for recognition that an adequate technological infrastructure must be in place to maximize plants for their medicinal value, especially in the context of primary health care (PHC). PHC places traditional medicine high on its list of priorities and emphasizes the availability and use of appropriate drugs. For example, countries should distribute seeds or plants to be cultivated in home or community gardens and taken as infusions. Scientists have not studied most medicinal plants which can be a rich potential resource for developing countries. Countries should apply known and effective technologies to meet health needs in a culturally acceptable manner and to promote self reliance. They must 1st strengthen data gathering and analysis capabilities needed for economic mapping of medicinal flora, then develop data centers on medicinal plants and plant derived products, such as the WHO Collaborating Center in Chicago. Clinical research should focus on the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines used by traditional health practitioners and on developing antiinfective agents. For example, 2 WHO agencies are collaborating on identifying, preparing, and testing extracts for medicinal plants for antiHIV capabilities. WHO favors developing the knowledge and skills of traditional health practitioners within the framework of PHC. Further, interregional workshops promote selection and use of traditional medicine in national PHC programs. Since there continue to be much public interest in medicinal plants, accurate information must be disseminated to the public and health professionals so they can know both the potential benefits and harmful effects of these remedies.