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Chinese medicine leading the fight against malaria in Africa

By  Abu Bakarr Kargbo (People's Daily Online)    16:50, July 17, 2017

The Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine has over the past sixty years with sustained effort developed from a pure medical university into a Chinese Medicine University with Chinese medicine as the main body and enjoying harmonious development of multi-disciplines, making outstanding contributions to the Chinese Medicine education. In 2004, the University became a member of the 211 Project of Guangdong Province and has been ranked as a good example of medical morality by the Chinese Government.

The University currently has 18, 000 students on campus of which 2, 400 are from Africa and South-East Asia. Graduates from the University have helped their countries a lot on improving their health conditions. “We have been supporting African Countries because we continue to see the continent as a key partner in development,” Wang Shegliang, President of the University said, and further assured that the University will continue to support Africa so that its citizens will be healthier.

The antimalarial research team of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine (GUCM) initiated a strategy called FEMSE through Mass Drug Administration (MDA) with Artemisinin-based combination therapy to eliminate malaria. It was introduced in Comoros, which was a high malaria epidemic area in 2006, and succeeded in lowering the disease without death in a short period.

Artemisinin is a lactone derived from the Artemisia annua plant. This plant’s common plant name is sweet wormwood or Qing Hao in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It has been used for at least 2,000 years to treat fevers, including Malaria. It is currently used for this purpose in modern medicine.

This supplement is also purported to have anti-aging applications, to support the immune system and has restorative properties for febrile conditions.

Malaria is a global pandemic, especially in Africa. The United Nations World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report in 2013 shows about 207 million malaria cases and 627, 000 deaths occurred in 2012. An estimated 3.4 billion people continue to be at risk of malaria, as 80% of malaria cases occur in Africa.

The World Health Organization used Artemisinin during its Mass Drug Administration to control malaria in Sierra Leone in 2014, targeting three million people. WHO succeeded in laying out some successful results from African Countries.

The antimalarial drug, Artequick was invented through the antimalarial team of the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, and it is a fourth generation of Artemisinin-based combination that owns proprietary intellectual property rights and has achieved patent protection in 38 countries and gone in 18 malaria epidemic countries.

In 2003, about 4, 000 people were diagnosed of malaria, with 20 severe cases that resulted to death due to late treatment.

Dr. Jianping Song of the Artemisinin-based combination therapy said there are about 2, 000 cases of malaria in China, most of which are coming from Africa.

“We have a very good cooperation with African Countries and have assisted and will continue to assist in areas like technical and healthcare supports,” he said, and added that African governments need to show interest so as to enable more support to eliminate malaria in the continent. “We care so much about human lives and we are sure that Artemisinin will make a significant contribution in the fight against malaria in Africa,” Dr. Song assured, and stated that "you cannot kill all the mosquitoes in an environment, which is why we are focussing on treating the parasite in the human body."

Abu Bakarr Kargbo is a Senior Staff Writer of Standard Times Newspaper in Sierra Leone and an intern at People’s Daily Online.

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(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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