Zanzibar — RESEARCH of herbal medicines that can be used as alternative cure for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) is underway and will be followed by value-addition before it is scientifically recommended.
Value-addition generally focuses on production or manufacturing processes, marketing or services that increase the value of primary commodities.
At a meeting to reveal the two-year project, researchers from Zanzibar Health Research Institute(ZHRI), National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) as well as Zanzibar Planning Commission said focus on research and developing herbal medicines is timely and vital amid global increase of both communicable and NCDs.
Dr Amour Suleiman Mohamed- Director, Medical Services in Ministry of Health, Social Welfare, Gender, Elders, and Children, who officiated the meeting held at the Ministry's conference hall put emphasis on improving the herbal medicines in the country because many people still rely on them for treatment.
"The idea of more research and value chain is important. Analysis of herbalists or traditional healers, then proper cultivation, maintenance and conservation, harvesting, processing, storage, packaging of the medicinal and aromatic plant industry are required to be standardized to meet the criteria for the certification," the Director said.
He also had he views that Zanzibar should, in the near future, have a traditional and herbal medicines institute to conduct researches, training, and production of the alternative quality medicines. The project begins with focus on herbs that can treat common asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
NIMRI Chief Research Scientist Prof Hamis Malebo, who is also the Chairperson of 'Traditional and Alternative said "Research and value addition are important because Zanzibar is blessed to have many potential trees and other plants for treatment such as cloves and spices that require to be developed scientifically."
Director General, ZAHRI Dr Mayasa Salum Ally said that the research which includes meeting with at least two herbalists from each of the ten districts of Zanzibar before laboratory work is scheduled to start next week.
The project backed by the Zanzibar Planning Commission is being funded by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) with about 70m/-, as a senior researcher and project guarantor Dr Afua Mohamed from planning commission promised maximum cooperation for success.
Dr Khalfan Amour- coordinator, COSTECH Zanzibar said that China and India share good experience as the Asian nations have developed herbal medicines, "In many health centres, patients have options for the western medicines or locally manufactured herbal medicines."