Blantyre – For a long time, Malawi’s tourism industry has pivoted on the huge diversity of the country’s scenery, including the fresh water body of Lake Malawi, the giant Shire River, the famed Mt Mulanje and the iconic Nyika and Liwonde national parks.
But recently, the country’s rich endowment in wild and virgin vegetation is making it a preferred destination for scientific researchers, naturalists, casual travelers and is now turning the country into a botanic centre as well as a medical tourism centre for people traveling to study the country’s medicinal plants or in search of much cheaper herbal medicine treatments which are now being used to compliment the conventional medicine for HIV and AIDS, cancer, cardiovascular, tuberculosis, arthritis and other chronic ailments.
Factors that have led to the recent increase in the popularity of herbal medical travel to Malawi include the search for medication with less chemical concentration to destroy body tissues, healthcare costs and costs on time spent waiting for treatment and procedures.
Herbal experts who have noted the widening shift from conventional medicine use to herbal preferences, say that herbal medicines have an advantage because their composition includes natural food supplies that supplement dietary intakes.
Dr Alex Banda of Tree of Life Herbal Hospital – which enjoys the patronage of tourists from across Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe – says careful attention and proper use of the gifts of nature is the best answer to hunger and disease.
He says; “The human body’s molecular composition of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, ions amino acids and vitamins can be easily found as both food and medicine in the mineral salts contained in the earth and plants that God created for human consumption.
“The reason is that God wanted us to replenish our used elements by extracting them from nature,” he says stressing the need to protect nature, the expanse for human nourishment and medicine.
Banda, trained in natural medicine at Anamed college in Germany observes that the medical world has now started promoting herbs for their medicinal and nutritional values as well as their other potential health benefits and detoxification properties.
Currently, Banda says he can ably to cure about 1,730 ailments including heart diseases, neurological disorders, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, liver problems, tuberculosis, colds, indigestion, skin conditions and anxiety.
“Malawi is rich in vegetation such that we have healing plants for almost every disease that attacks human beings,” he says disclosing that critical cases that major hospitals fail to treat are referred to his Lilongwe-based hospital which enjoys an Anamed qualification, which he claims is recognized by the World health Organisation (WHO) after adopting resolutions supporting the use of indigenous health practitioners in government-supported health programs.
Banda says the wide use of herbal medicine was discarded from conventional medical practice in the mid-20th century, not because herbs were ineffective but because modern medical businesspersons thought of them as not as economically profitable as the newer synthetic drugs.
“Fortunately, WHO acknowledges that the global use of herbal remedies still exceeds that of conventional drugs by two to three times and as such WHO encourages the use of traditional plant medicine to fulfill needs unmet by modern medicine,” he says.
UNAIDS says the adopted resolutions also encourage specific measures governing the practice of traditional medicine to be incorporated within national health legislation, adequate budgets to allow promotion of traditional medicine, development of traditional medicine systems, effective launching of these programs, and inventories of medicinal plants.
“Sadly, we aren’t taking advantage of the cost effective herbal antioxidants, vitamins and nutritional substances to fight against germs, toxins and to boost the immunity level,” says Banda explaining that the medicine which he administers dried or in soup or syrup forms, also weaken and neutralise HIV, the virus that causes aids.
The herbal doctor notes that herbal medicines are now more widely accepted since they have now formed the backbone of medical research.