These days it is relatively unusual to hear of people catching TB, although the disease is creeping back into this country. In many parts of the world however, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, the TB epidemic has reached devastating proportions and is, alongside malaria and HIV, a terrible source of suffering, killing 2,000 Africans every day. TB affects mainly younger people of working age with families to support. People with weakened immune systems and poor nutrition are more susceptible, and the disease spreads easily in squalid living conditions with poor sanitation typically found in many parts of Africa. A lengthy drug treatment is available and can cure ordinary TB, but in Africa hospitals and health services are struggling to keep up with this epidemic, which is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to treat as drug-resistant strains of TB develop. This is a very frightening situation which means for many people that there is no treatment - they are simply abandoned to die a painful death.
Local acupuncturist Jenny Craig is co-founder of a charity called Moxafrica, established in 2009 to investigate how this problem might be addressed by a traditional therapy, moxa, that was used in Japan to treat TB before antibiotics were developed. Moxa is a herbal substance made from the leaves of mugwort plants. It contains many aromatic oils with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and is used by acupuncturists across the world to help with many health conditions. Moxa is not a drug and is not taken internally; its application involves smouldering tiny pieces of moxa at specific places on the skin surface. The penetration of heat and natural oils into the skin has been shown to have various beneficial effects on the body, including stimulation of the immune system and improving circulation.
Working with clinics in very poor areas of Uganda and South Africa, Jenny has been helping to set up training programs to teach nurses and carers how to administer moxa treatment to their patients, alongside any medication that is available to them. Initial studies have shown very promising results, with patients reporting more rapid recovery from TB and reduced side effects from the toxic drug treatment. Working on a very limited budget, Moxafrica has been able to help hundreds of patients in the last 2 years, but there is so much more to do. Moxafrica are now funding a clinical trial which is being conducted in Kampala by scientists at Makarere Medical School, to examine in detail the effects of moxa on the immune system of TB and HIV patients. This is the first study of its kind anywhere in the world, and could lead the way to a wider understanding and acceptance of moxa therapy by the medical profession, with the potential to benefit millions of the world’s neediest people.
Moxafrica is a very small charity with a huge mission. Funds are needed urgently to continue their research and ongoing support of African clinics. You can help by coming along to an afternoon concert in Gatehouse of Fleet Parish Church on Sunday 24th March (2.30pm). An exciting musical program performed by local musicians, The Vintage Ensemble, will include a rich variety of short pieces from many different cultures and from the 16th to the 20th century. In addition, Jenny Craig will give a short illustrated presentation about the charity’s work and there will be a raffle and refreshments with delicious home baking for sale.
Entry is free but donations are invited. All proceeds will go to Moxafrica. Please come along, bring your friends, have fun and support this very worthy cause.
For more details about Moxafrica see http://www.moxafrica.org
For information about the concert : Jenny Craig 01671 404845