We all know that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can heal hundreds and thousands ailments killing millions today. But this TCM is one of the greatest discovery of mankind.
Awarded with the 2015 Nobel Medicine Prize are Chinese scientist Tu Youyou and artemisinin.
Wondering what this medicine can do? Read the article below and be amazed.
NAIROBI, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) — Since the Nobel Committee announced the winners of the 2015 Nobel Medicine Prize last week, Chinese scientist Tu Youyou and artemisinin, an effective cure for malaria discovered by Tu and her colleagues in 1970s, were brought into the spotlight.
“It’s a gift that traditional Chinese medicine has for the world,” the 84-year-old Tu said in an interview with Xinhua.
Apparently Africa, a continent continuing to bear the brunt of the burden of malaria, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the discovery of artemisinin.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2013, an estimated 163 million cases of malaria occurred in Africa, causing approximately 528,000 deaths.
Artemisinin is an extractive from Artemisia annua, a traditional Chinese medicine commonly seen in the fields in rural areas in China. The plant has been used by ancient Chinese doctors as an ingredient of prescription to cure diseases like influenza and malaria.
Combing ancient Chinese medicine texts and manuals, Tu drew her inspiration from a treatment for malaria recorded in a traditional medicine manual 1,600 years ago, using diethyl ether to isolate artemisinin from Artemisia annua, the best anti-malaria medicine ever in history saving millions of lives across the world.
The discovery of the drug came at a time when the malaria parasite became resistant to more traditional drugs like quinine and chloroquine. The drug has since been included in WHO list of essential medicines.
WHO figures show that between 2000 and 2013, the estimated number of malaria cases in Africa declined by 34 percent while malaria death rates declined by 54 percent, an achievement greatly attributed to treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).
Arnold Ferdinand, a pharmacist at a community near Ghana’s capital Accra, said there has been a vast improvement in treatment of malaria in the country since artemisinin was introduced.
“Normally, when you are treating any condition, malaria especially, you want a drug that will reduce the severity of the condition, minimize the incidence of death, and even reduce the duration of the ailment and then especially a drug that the parasite wouldn’t show any resistance to. This is what the artemisinin molecule has brought to us,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
In 2007, Botswana government took a decision to change the first line drug to ACT in view with resistance and the regional move towards malaria elimination.
“When administered early in all patients with uncomplicated malaria, recovery is almost hundred percent. The patients are treated as outpatients and do not need hospital admission,” said a public health specialist in north Botswana, an area with high incidence of the disease.
A Chinese medical team has been cooperating with health authority of Comorin on a malaria eradication program with artemisinin-based combination therapy since 2007.
The program has been hailed as “great success” as the country recorded zero malaria related death 2014. The program has also reduced the malaria infection rate sharply from 142 cases per thousand people in 2006 to 2.8 cases per thousand people in 2014.
Nobel laureate Tu has reminded the world of the legacy and value of traditional Chinese medicine and African countries see potential in strengthening cooperation on drug supply with China. Artemisia annua begins to be planted in countries like Uganda as part of efforts in fighting malaria.
“Zambia expects its future cooperation with China in the health sector to focus on drug supply and specialist training,” said Zambian Health Minister Joseph Kasonde in a recent interview with Xinhua.