In most African countries, with the availability of western medicine being scarce, traditional herbal remedies are still used to treat ailments. Several of these remedies, however, have never undergone quality control testing. The EU-funded MUTHI (Multi-disciplinary university traditional health initiative: building sustainable research capacity on plants for better public health in Africa) project has created sustainable health research capacities and networks between Africa and Europe. It has also given participants from Africa the opportunity to implement research methodologies that can improve traditional medicines. In doing so, they were able to clinically evaluate and register medicinal products used for treatment of illnesses in African countries. MUTHI used recorded knowledge on the use of medicinal plants and partnered with African traditional health practitioners to share, integrate and evaluate new information. Workshops took place for training participants from all African partners and areas, notably Uganda and South Africa (Cape Town). Such workshops focused on ethnopharmacology, ethnobotany, bioassays, how to write a clinical trial protocol, and applying knowledge of intellectual property rights. An e-learning training package was developed and was followed by almost 400 people as of December 2013. Scientists also underwent training in Bergen and Oslo, and such training continued in other European laboratories and relevant African partner laboratories. MUTHI training programmes help to ensure that traditional remedies are quality controlled through chemical and biological tests. Compounds from selected plants were isolated and studied. The training through MUTHI and the controlled production of these traditionally based medicines will help towards better health for Africa by being cheaper and more readily available for the population in rural areas.
Africa, traditional medicine, research, medicinal plants