Can we exploit and adapt indigenous knowledge and ethno-botanicals for a healthy living in the face of emerging diseases like Ebola in Africa
In this essay, we attempted to catalogue and describe African indigenous knowledge, in contributing to sustainable health development in Sub Saharan Africa. In the face of poverty and threats of diseases such as ebola.We also describe how biotechnology can enhance cultural mechanism for improved health care. A snap shot of certain cultural habits that promote disease dissemination that would have to be modified is described. This report is basically a descriptive essay and partly based on a survey and collection of indigenous practices in Cameroon, and some cultures across countries in SSA. Some of the traditional knowledge relevant to disease transmission and control may form basis for experimentation, validation, development and application of appropriate medical biotechnologies for cheap, low tech disease control strategies and healthy living through a number of ethnobotanicals medicines, such as Occimum basilicum popularly called holy basil and in Kom language known as afuaih toh by many ethnicities of the Tikar in Ghana, Uganda, Gabon, parts of Kenya and Tanzania, Equitorial Guinea, Ethiopia, and Madagascar, who believe that the aromatic smell it emits dispels not only evil spirits but certain diseases such as HIV, Ebola and disease vectors. Such indigenous knowledge and science, with simple skills and familiarity, applied as an innovative approach to hygiene, medical challenges and disease control. Understand the practices, and see how to introduce interventions (incremental interventions), with existing indigenous knowledge enhanced with present science and technology, which you see can be applied to resolving present and possible outbreaks like Ebola. Generally called Macepo, tribes in Bukuru in northern Nigeria often used it to preserve dead bodies in remote villages where neither hospital nor morgue exist for days pending burial. Could scientific attention validate the use of African indigenous knowledge in Ebola prevention or future emerging diseases so that Africans can carry out safe burials within the context of their culture without risk of disease spread? We noted the believe amongst most ethnic groups regarding the use of Occimum basilicum, and leaf powder of some indigenous plants as a preservative for corpse or crops and insect repellent.This could serve as excellent platforms for mitigation and control of outbreaks such as Ebola.