An estimated one-third of malaria patients die from the disease each year. The disease is particularly deadly to children under the age of 5.
Over the years, the malaria parasite has developed a resistance to most traditional medicines used to treat it, and the mosquitoes that carry and spread the disease have become immune to most insecticides. However, Norwegian researchers are seeking an alternative treatment: extracts from a plant used in traditional African medicine.
Researchers at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB) are testing plant extracts in the hope that it will be able to replace the traditional remedies for the condition.
“There are several plants that have been shown to kill the malaria parasite,” says Dr. Torunn Stangeland Ph.D. of UMB. The university is not the only group looking to use plants to fight disease in Africa.
If the plants prove effective, it could lead to a healthier and more independent Africa. Stangeland said, “If we can find plants that prove effective against malaria, we hope that African authorities and countries will register the tested medicines and produce them themselves.”
The Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) is working with tobacco extracts as a possible cure for Malaria and HIV/AIDS.