Background: Plants in Ethiopia have become increasingly important as sources of traditional medicines. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that malaria kills 2.7 million people every year, 90% of who are from Africa. Malaria continues to be a national concern in Ethiopia as it plays a major role in the high mortality rates being experienced currently. The country has witnessed recurrent epidemics of the disease with grave consequences. The use and misuse of chloroquine to prevent and treat falciparum malaria have led to widespread appearance of chloroquine resistant parasites in Ethiopia and other tropical countries. These factors and the rising costs of non-chloroquine drugs have made the local people turn to traditional remedies for malaria management. This paper examines the current utilization of traditional plant medicines in managing malaria among the inhabitants of Assendabo Township in Jimma, Ethiopia. Method: A cross-sectional study was done on randomly selected inhabitants of Assendabo town and surrounding villages, using structured pre-tested questionnaires. Results: Both indigenous and introduced species of plants were in use, indicating that traditional medicinal practices in this region are dynamic. In total 8 species in 13 plant types were identified. The most common species used were ‘Armagusa’ Ajuga remota and ‘Birbira or Halleko’ Moringa olifera. The Ajuga species was a common ingredient in almost all medications used, while both these species reported anti-malarial effectivity. In most cases the plant extracts to be used for medication were obtained in a destructive manner, requiring conservation measures to ensure sustainable utilization. Conclusions: This study reiterates that a considerable proportion of the Ethiopian community uses traditional medicine to treat malaria and other diseases. The results of this study become a basis for selecting plants for further pharmacological and phytochemical studies to develop new and locally relevant anti-malarial agents in Ethiopia.
Keywords: Malaria, medicinal plant, traditional mode of treatment, decoction, concoction
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