Is there a role for trado-medicine in the Nigerian health sector? (11)

4 January, 2019

Dear Christoph

I am the editor for CABI's Global Health public health database and member of HIFA’s steering group. I find searching our Archive (goes back to 1912) really useful when in a situation like yours, as often our abstracts are the only remaining record of research from print journals and our abstractors would refer (often in great detail) to previous or relevant work in the field, which enables you to track it down. They certainly make it discoverable in the context of a literature search ..took me all of 3 mins to find these 2 records, one of which clearly refers to the work you speak of:

Leprosy: towards a new therapeutic approach. Traditional pharmacopoeia and medicine. Future perspective.

PARES, Y. ; Afrique Medicale , 1980 , Vol. 19 , No. Dec , pp. 713-724

This paper comes from the Centre for Biological Research in Leprosy in the Science Faculty of the University of Dakar in Senegal. It lists 240 plants which have been used in Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville) and Madagascar for the "traditional" treatment of leprosy. The author, who has published extensively on this subject since 1972, draws attention to increasing reports of dapsone resistance, and hence to the need to consider other therapeutic substances, including those which may be locally available.

[Although I admire the industry and enthusiasm behind this article, and acknowledge the potential importance of locally available medicines, it is difficult to see how such a large number of plants could ever be screened and tried out in the treatment of human leprosy. Furthermore, current shortcomings in leprosy control in the field are more clearly related to deficiencies in case-finding, case-holding and drug distribution, than to a failure of the drugs which are already available.] A. C. McDougall.

Its published in Afrique Medicale and clearly you need access to the fulltext. Our abstractor A. C. McDougall has commented that the author had "published extensively on this subject since 1972", so I suggest you look for other publications by her in Afrique Medicale.

I happen to know that WHO library has a complete print run of this journal from 1963-1994 in storage, so if you don't hear back from colleagues, you could try contacting Tomas Allen ( and asking him to check and pull out at least the above paper.

The 2nd record by her was on the use of Moraxella “to study group II Mycobacterium” and published in Bulletin de la Societe Medicale d'Afrique Noire de Langue Francaise , 1976 , and so another French language African journal to try. WHO library also has issues of this stored that cover 1971-1978. Liverpool has 1973-1999.

Preserving Africa’s health literature through digitisation of African health journals

Neither journal of this period has been digitised and so is not online. This just emphasizes to me how important was Tomas’s call to preserve over 100 years of Africa’s health literature through digitisation of African health journals (stored by WHO Library). The idea was to make it open access so that researchers like yourself could access it easily and indeed African researchers could reclaim their heritage. CABI was interested in this project, in digitising and creating a searchable sustainable database linking to fulltext, but funding needed to be secured to do this.

As an aside, the Global Health database ( has over 38000 records on ethnopharmacology, the earliest being 1913 in Archiv fur Schiffs- und Tropenhygiene

I hope this information helps.



HIFA profile: Wendie Norris is Editor of the Global Health & Tropical Diseases Bulletin, at CAB International, UK. CABI improves people's lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. Wendie has a background as a research scientist in developmental biology. She is a member of the HIFA Steering group.

w.norris AT