Gulu University is to host a herbal medicine trial laboratory, URN has learnt. Pharmacists from Mbarara University of Science and Technology are setting up the clinical trial site.
The two medical teaching universities seek to collaborate with on the clinical trials of native tree species that have been found to be effective in treating some diseases including Malaria, sickle cell, cancer and diabetes among others.
Dr. Beatrice Odongkara Mpora, the Coordinator of the Project at Gulu University, says PhD, and Masters and pharm therapeutics students from Mbarara University will be stationed at the site documenting and conducting clinical trials of various herbal medicines.
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Dr. Odongkara says the site will be an extension of extensive laboratory tests being conducted at Mbarara University where scientists have discovered a cure for the multi drug resistant tuberculosis.
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According to Dr. Odongkara, Gulu University is working towards developing a curriculum for training medicine students on the principles and practices of integrating herbal medicines in the public health care system.
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The clinical trial will rely on herbal medicine grown in a seven acre plantation of native trees in Panyikworo village in Bungatira Sub County in Aswa County. The plantation is run by Wise Women Uganda, a community based organization composed of more than 200 herbalists in Gulu district.
The herbalists claim to treat all sort of ailments such as infertility, Malaria, Ulcers, diabetes and mental illness among others. Some of their products have been chemically tested for effectiveness at the Natural Chemotherapeutics Research Laboratory in Wandegeya as well as at Mbarara University.
Juliet Adoch, the Founding President of Wise Women Uganda, says the partnership for herbal medicine research between herbalists and Gulu University started in April this year with a visit of 100 pharmacy students to their plantation.
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Adoch says the students wrote 11 different field reports detailing their preliminary findings from the native tree plantation expressing interest in further research and practicals. She says the opportunity for clinical trials in the region is a major boost for development of herbal medicine in Uganda.
Most herbal medicine trading on the Ugandan market is imported from neighboring Kenya, Tanzania, India and China while domestic entrepreneurs have mostly excelled in developing skin care products, tooth paste and syrups among other products.
Practitioners like Adoch accuse government of letting them down by failing to pass the draft policy on regulation of herbal medicine practitioners to attract researchers and encourage investment in development of herbal medicine.
Fred Baseke, a member of the Parliamentary health committee defended government, saying parliament is exercising due diligence before passing the national policy on herbal medicines.