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Artemisia annua, a natural defence against malaria in Cameroon



A child dies from malaria every 30 seconds. With just a few grams of artemisia annua, that child could be saved in 5 days...
iWith.org is supporting one of the most promising anti-malarial remedies in Cameroon, highlighting the terrible impact of this disease and current initiatives against it which need our support.


With 1.5 to 2.4 million deaths from malaria every year, half of which are children under five, the disease is one of the deadliest there is. A child dies from malaria every 30 seconds; nearly 3,000 per day. Over one million people die from malaria every year, a very large proportion of whom are children under five. Malaria prevents children attending school and hinders their social development. Many child victims of a severe episode of malaria suffer physical and mental after-effects. Malaria is a major cause of poverty, and preventing it is a key aspect fighting poverty and sustaining economic development. (www.artemisia-annua.org).

Below is a discussion with Mr Luako Bolangongo Sebastien, who set up the Artemisia Annua, une espoir contre le paludisme ('Artemisia Annua, a ray of hope against malaria') project, and is also founder of the anti-malaria association in Cameroon, which now leads all the campaigns for launching, continuing production and fundraising.

ALUCOP, the Cameroon anti-malaria association, a non-profit, apolitical organisation set up on 2 June 2008 in Cameroon, with its registered office in Monatélé in the Department of La-Lékié, in the Centre Region. The association is currently focusing its work on an Artemisia Annua production programme, to reduce malaria through a miracle cure which could even be life-saving for thousands. Firstly, what were the factors which led you to set up your organisation in Cameroon? Can you describe the situation in the region from a health perspective?

We started thinking about malaria, this great disease which kills more than AIDS, and which we're so often victims of. We also asked ourselves questions about why there are so many deaths due to this disease in Africa and more specifically in Cameroon.
In terms of factors, the following are important:
Poverty – Financial hardship is one of the biggest causes of these many deaths of malaria victims, since for a person with malaria, money is the main obstacle to obtaining adequate care for full recovery.
Unsanitary conditions around houses have increased and have led to the blockage of drainage channels, creating stagnant water around the homes.
The lack of a hospital – Many villages have no hospital or vehicles for transporting a malaria patient into town where the hospitals and medical specialists are.
Poor malaria treatment – African villagers, due to lack of financial means and/or the poor condition of the roads to the towns and the infrequency or near absence of vehicles in their villages, tend to carry out various kinds of unconventional traditional treatments to relieve malaria symptoms.ux stagnantes autour des habitations qui sont en fait les lieux propices pour la reproduction et l'habitation des moustiques.
 
These were the factors which led us to set up this association, in order to support the Cameroon government in this fight against malaria.  How do you see your project, ‘Artemisia annua une espoir contre le paludisme’, developing in Cameroon? You have already spoken on several occasions about the miraculous properties of this plant, but please explain in a few words the plant's route from seed to patient and the long-term benefits of producing this plant.

The deployment of the project we are proposing will markedly reduce the mortality rate due to this illness and may radically change the situation for malaria sufferers in Cameroon. This plant can be grown on any soil, anywhere – in the garden, the veranda, in fields, by the roadside, or in an allotment. If malaria strikes, the person can use the leaves on their veranda to treat themselves. Artemsia annua is typically taken in tablet form after processing in laboratories. However, the most practical and effective method of destroying malaria virus for the poor is by taking it as a herbal infusion. Simply boil water for 7 minutes and then pour it into a cup containing 5g of artemisia annua (the daily dose). The normal course of treatment is 5 days, or 25g of artemisia leaves. Unlike some other medicines, this plant does not have any side effects on the human body. One hectare of artemisia annua produces 3 tonnes of dry leaves and 6–8 tonnes of fresh leaves.
Many researchers have proven the clinical effectiveness of this plant, for example: C.H. Blanke, G. B. Naisabha, M. B. Balema, G.M Mbaruku, L. Heide, S. M. Müller in the work: Herba artemisia annua tea preparation compared to sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in the treatment of uncomplicated falciparum malaria in adults: a randomized double-blind clinical trial. Trop Doct 2008, 38: 113–6.
They reported on 10 cases treated by artemisia annua herbal infusion; Müller reported on 2 trials, one of 53 patients, the other of 72 patients. In these three studies a major clinical improvement was observed in almost all cases from the third day of treatment. In all three studies, the parasitemia had disappeared.

Are there any other anti-malaria solutions in the country?

The National Anti-Malaria Programme (PNLP) distributes impregnated mosquito nets, there is the anti-vector mosquito spraying campaign, the town cleaning by Hysacam, a public sector company, and awareness-raising campaigns.
One gram contains 12,000 seeds; 12,000 LIVES. Tell us about the resources you have for the plant's production and your current needs: funds, specialists, tools.
In this project started by the programme managers, ALUCOP has 30g of artemisia annua seeds to grow, and the workforce is already in place, specifically agricultural engineers, agricultural workers, nurses, warehouse keepers, accountants, works supervisors, buyers, and the land is available and ready for this type of production.
The project needs financial support from NGOs, associations and donors, and assistance from NGOs for carrying out this humanitarian project.

Several non-profit organisations and international public institutions assist the NGOs and local associations in this type of project. Can you say a few words about your partners and their role in your programme?

Mediplant Suisse is one of our biggest partners in Switzerland who has helped us to obtain the artemisis annua seeds and design a technical framework. We are also affiliated to the Cameroon Public Health Ministry's National Anti-Malaria Programme (PNLP).
What we're looking for at present is support for launching this programme, which remains very open to dialogue and to hearing your concerns. What we really need is a camcorder, a digital camera for reporting on our fieldwork activities. This donation would really help us to raise awareness about our activities.
Any other type of support, financial or otherwise, would also be appreciated in order to make our efforts against malaria more effective and sustainable.

Practical information
:
The anti-malaria association (ALUCOP) is a non-profit association based in Monatélé, with its central office in Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon.
The organisation was set up on 2 June 2008 in Cameroon, registered under number 051/RDA/J03/BAPP. For more details and to make a donation, contact Mr Luako Sebastien direct (alucop77@yahoo.fr).


Translation by Philippa Hammond
on 03/08/2010
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