The aim of Antenna Medicines Unit is to improve access to quality care, for all and especially the most vulnerable, focusing on local practices and products which have been assessed by scientific and clinical studies.
Research projects are designed and conducted in tandem with local scientists, health professionals, students and patients. The results provide new tools to make informed choices in the use of available resources, for a positive and significant impact on community health.
Our approach echoes the World Health Organisation’s current General Programme, in particular this recommendation: improving equitable access to safe, quality and effective traditional medicines can help achieve universal health coverage, address health emergencies and build sustainable and culturally sensitive primary health care.
The method commonly used by Antenna at the start of a project is the “retrospective treatment-outcome” study, inspired by the concept of “reverse pharmacology” : a survey of all therapeutic practices in the population, correlated with reported outcomes.
The basic idea is that daily experience of populations accumulates after years and generations an immense quantity of data which are « observed outcomes after actions ». A set of “big data” of possible cause-and-effect relationships. Experience is misleading when it comes to inferences about causal links. For example, when we recover from an illness we think that it is due to the treatment, whereas it might well be a case of spontaneous healing. With a close look at a large number of cases, we may observe that, among several treatments used for disease X, A is followed by good progress in 80% of cases and B in 40%. This shows that A could be more effective, but this remains to be proven through a clinical trial with quality controls.
The results of such research provide health professionals and communities with new tools to make informed choices in the use of available resources – for a positive and significant impact on health.
Argemone Mexicana (Mexican Poppy, Mexican Thistle), a tropical plant that is very effective for treating malaria. During the latest survey, a 100% cure rate was reported for adults and children over five who had an uncomplicated episode of malaria and used the Argemone preparation.
Sublingual sugar for the treatment of hypoglycaemia. The World Health Organization has included sublingual sugar treatment in the WHO pocket book “Guidelines for the management of common childhood illnesses”.
Crisis Dialogue, a verbal tool to improve engagement with and support for people undergoing a psychotic episode. The handbook is available in several languages (English, French and Arabic).
Diabetes and high blood pressure
Many people in poor populations who suffer from non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are treated with products that can be obtained locally, usually plants. Are these plants really effective? Are some of them better than others? This is what we are studying in Micronesia and Haiti, in collaboration with local researchers and students.