Medicinal Plants Used in the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases in Uganda

TitleMedicinal Plants Used in the Management of Noncommunicable Diseases in Uganda
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKakudidi, E, Kirimuhuzya, C, Anywar, G, Katuura, E, Kiguli, J
Pagination 397-418
KeywordsMedicinal plants, Noncommunicable diseases, Traditional medical practitioners, Uganda

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are recent and growing health problem in Uganda. The NCDs epidemic is burdening the healthcare systems, which is already under pressure from the high prevalence of communicable diseases. Hypertension is the most common NCD in Uganda; more females than males suffer from NCDs. High blood pressure and heart disease equally affect 5.3 % of the female population, while they affect 2.4 % and 2.6 % males, respectively. Cancers of the prostate and cervix are ranked number one in men and women, respectively. Traditional herbal medicine remains the most utilized form of healthcare. With the emergence of various NCDs, the services of traditional medical practitioners (TMPs) are set to rise. We collated 42 medicinal plants from literature used in the treatment of NCDs, of which 20 (47.6 %) are used in the management of hypertension, an indicator of its prevalence. Seven priority species were also identified for various NCDs by TMPs. The Uganda government realizing the importance of traditional medicine in primary healthcare established the Natural Chemotherapeutic Research Institute to undertake research on medicinal plants used by TMPs with the aim of justifying the therapeutic claims. Research on medicinal plants is still faced with the challenge of funding and collaboration between institutions to harness synergies towards the gradual integration into modern healthcare systems. The Ministry of Health needs to invest in training professional health providers and TMPs and public sensitization using targeted messages on prevention and management of NCDs, as was done for the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Uganda.