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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135

Abstract

SIEGFRIED, N  and  HUGHES, G. Herbal medicine, randomised controlled trials and global core competencies. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2012, vol.102, n.12, pp. 912-913. ISSN 2078-5135.

Despite widespread use, few empirical data on the efficacy of traditional medicine are available. We conducted systematic reviews of eight widely used African medicines and identified only one plant, Pelargonium sidoides, which has been extensively studied (including in a Cochrane systematic review). To address the need for rigorous science to underpin traditional medicine claims, the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute at the University of Western Cape launched the Multi-disciplinary University Traditional Health Initiative (MUTHI) in 2011. The European Union-funded initiative aims to build sustainable research capacity on plants for better public health in Africa. A 2011 needs analysis of clinicians and scientists from 14 African countries confirmed a lack of clinical trial methodology, knowledge and experience. In response, MUTHI deliverables include annual clinical trial methodology workshops in host countries and development of e-learning modules. The initiative provides a unique opportunity for developing African capacity to discover new medicinal products

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