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HerbClip Presents 4-Part Series on Traditional Medicine Use in Africa

(February 15, 2005)  As a new feature of HerbClip, we will be providing HerbClip News which will call attention to HerbClips of special interest or discuss related issues. In this first edition of HC News, we tie world events to a series of HerbClips being presented.  We hope that by periodically presenting HC News you will derive even more value from this important ABC service.

HerbClip Presents 4-Part Series on Traditional Medicine Use in AfricaWhile much of the world's attention has focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the recent devastation from the tsunami, little attention has been paid to the uprisings in Africa's Congo region, where an estimated 3 to 4 million people have been killed since 1999. Nine African nations are currently engaged in a war that is centered in eastern Congo and affects approximately 50 million Congolese. According to "Congo's five-year war is officially over and a transitional government is trying to shepherd the vast African nation to elections next year [2005], but the peace process has come to a halt, largely because of the continued presence of armed groups in the east.By early December 2004 rival units within Democratic Republic of Congo's supposedly unified national army clashed in [the] eastern part of the country. Reports reaching the capital in Kinshasa suggested heavy fighting broke out on 12 December 2004, just south of the border town of Goma." Added to the deaths and displacements of persons due to the fighting and massacres are the deaths and loss of health caused by both communicable and non-communicable diseases.

The African Region of the World Health Organization (AFRO) has its headquarters in the midst of this war torn country. Based in Brazzaville, Congo, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, the WHO African Region, with an estimated population of 654 million in 46 Member States, publishes the African Health Monitor. ABC is presenting a four part series based on articles about traditional medicine use and development in Africa. The first in the series appeared in the January 31st HerbClips and focused on local production of traditional medicines in Africa. The second HerbClip, included in the February 15th HerbClips, is an overview of traditional medicine in Africa. Dr. Rufaro Chatora writes that 80 percent of the African population depends on traditional medicine for their health. An article focusing on the integration of modern medicine and traditional medicine written by Dr. Luis Sambo, the new Regional Director for AFRO as of February 1st, 2005, will be presented in the third series. The final HerbClip in this series will be based on an article by Dr. Ossy Kasilo, the regional advisor for traditional medicine at AFRO, who wrote an article about the status of research and development of African traditional medicine. Dr. Sambo stated in his acceptance speech that "the challenges [which AFRO faces] take the form, first and foremost, of the high prevalence of communicable diseases, and especially of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; of the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and of the very high levels of maternal and child mortality, all of which are responsible for the low life expectancy in the African Region." AFRO also faces the challenge of providing healthcare in the midst of war. Through their efforts, they provide hope to the people of Africa.

Lori Glenn, Coordinator