In response to the global burden imposed by the widespread incidence of AIDS, Zambia has initiated clinical drug trials involving herbal medicines. It has been estimated that one in every six Zambians are afflicted with the disease.
The initiative would focus on the efficacy of herbal remedies in the treatment of AIDS/HIV. About 14 natural remedies were considered out of which three have been approved. The trial would be conducted according to the World Health Organization guidelines and nearly twenty-five people with HIV will take part in the three-month trial.
At a press conference in the Zambian capital Lusaka, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said: "It is a momentous occasion for Zambia which establishes a partnership between conventional medicine and traditional medicine."
Anti-retroviral drugs are the currently available options for the treatment of AIDS. The cost of these drugs however, poses serious financial constraints, especially in the developing countries. This situation has prompted the need for alternative treatment options.
One of the three drugs is a formulation mixed by a former government minister and constitutional lawyer, Ludwig Sondashi. "Herbal remedies have not been proven to help... The only thing proven is anti-retroviral treatments", according to Genevieve Clark, of the British charity Terence Higgins Trust.
More clinical trials with adequate sample size would be needed before the herbal remedies can be used for treatment. Anything that would serve to boost the immune system or anything that would improve the general health is to be welcomed according to people who are optimistic about a treatment for the deadly killer.