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Health Ministry asks UCC to Withdraw Antimalarial Beverage Adverts

In an interview with Uganda Radio Network this morning, Dr. Jimmy Opigo who heads the Malaria Control Programme at the Ministry of Health said promoting Artavol as prevention for malaria is wrong because the properties from which it’s made can only stay in the blood for a very short time something that puts its users at risk of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

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The Ministry of Health has asked the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to withdraw an advert of an antimalarial beverage called Artavol.

In an advert, popular radio personality Crystal Newman is featured taking the tea, containing a beverage which they say helps in the prevention of malaria, frequent fevers and building people’s immune systems to fight disease. It is said to have ingredients including avocado seed, Artemisia annua plant and lemongrass which with regular intake can reduce chances of being hospitalized with malaria by up to 80 per cent.

But during an interview with Uganda Radio Network (URN) this morning, Dr Jimmy Opigo who heads the Malaria Control Programme at the Ministry of Health said promoting Artavol as prevention for malaria is wrong.  He adds that the properties from which artavol is made can only stay in the blood for a very short time something that puts its users at risk of resistance to artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT).

While the advert continues running on various media platforms including Major TV stations, Opigo said that they had indicated to UCC to have it pulled down immediately. 

// Cue in: “The artavol advert ….    

Cue out: ….. two months.”//  

He says the World Health Organisation has warned against the use of artemisinin components in prevention even though he notes that a lot of people might be using the herb irregularly because the plant is widely grown largely in parts of Kabale and Kabarole.

In the early 2000s, growing of artemisinin plant was being promoted preparing for the establishment of a pharmaceutical plant for ACTs that didn’t take off.

When asked whether the beverage was approved for use by the National Drug Authority, Public Relations Officer Fredrick Ssekyana couldn’t confirm that it was although he mentioned that it’s their mandate to have such regulated and to verify any promotional messages that come with it to ensure that the public is not misled.

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