The World Health Organization estimates that up to 80% of the population of Africa makes use of traditional medicine. In sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio of traditional healers to the remainder of the population is approximately 1:500, while physicians have a 1:40,000 ratio compared to the rest of the population. Medicinal plants are the major component of traditional medicine and play an important role in treating different diseases in Ethiopia including the infectious diseases malaria and leishmaniasis as well as different forms of cancer.
Up to 80% of the Ethiopian population relies on traditional remedies as a primary source of health care. Traditional medicine practitioners also have access to a tremendous variety of medicinal plants that are believed to be useful for treating various diseases. The protection and cultivation of those highly valued Ethiopian endemic medicinal plants has received little attention, however. Scientific verification of their active chemical components and specific disease indications is largely absent.
A partnership between the School of Pharmacy at the University of Gondar and The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy is to carry out ethnopharmacological surveys to identify the traditional uses of selected medicinal plants endemic to Ethiopia. Extracts will be evaluated for their activity against malaria and Leishmania parasites and against cancer cell lines in vitro in the laboratory facilities of the College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University. This project will focus on investigating the antimalarial, antileishmanial and anticancer potential of ethnobotanically claimed plants for new drug development and sustainable use.
Ohio State is hosting an Ethiopian graduate student to work on this project for one year as part of a sandwich PhD program. The student will begin work at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy in spring 2014.