With the absence of drugs in local health facilities, the people of Karamoja have resorted to treating common illnesses using the Neem tree.
By Francis Emorut
With the absence of drugs in local health facilities, the people of Kotido district in northern Karamoja region have resorted to treating common illnesses using the Neem tree.
Neem, biologically called Azadirachta indica, is a tree in the mahogany family.
The Karamojong are now using the plant’s leaves and bark to treat malaria, diarrhea and cough.
They say they resorted to the Neem after being disappointed with the local health centres where they are told there are no drugs available.
"Whenever I visit Nakapelimoru Health Centre III, I am told there are no drugs and so for us we depend on Neem tree," said Maria Laco.
She explained how she uses the ‘tree medicine’.
To begin with, she plucks leaves from the Neem tree, and then pounds it in a motor, before boiling it. She says it is the water formed after boiling that is given to a patient to treat malaria – plus other common illnesses.
"Whenever children suffer from diarrhea, we use Neem tree leaves and peels from the stem [bark] to treat the disease," another local, Madelena Munyol, tells New Vision.
Instead of walking to the health centre, the Karamojong opt for 'greener pastures'. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
A Neem tree garden in Panyagara subcounty, Kotido district. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
Maria Laco chops off pieces of the tree's bark to use as medicine. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
These Karamojong women say they will continue to use the Neem tree to treat illnesses. (Credit: Francis Emorut)
When contacted, Dr. Pascal Panvuga confirmed that the Neem tree leaves and bark can treat malaria and it is what most Karamojong people use.
The option once worked for him too.
"I have also ever used Neem tree leaves for treating malaria and I became okay," Dr. Panvuga said.
The residents of Panyagara sub-county say unless government stocks large quantity of drugs for malaria, cough and diarrhea treatment, they will continue seeking the Neem tree as their medicinal choice.
"For us, our medicine is Neem tree and nothing else because it can treat cough, malaria and diarrhea,” says George Lokwang.
Lokwang explained that the tree has been used by their great grandparents to combat diseases such as malaria and cough and that the Karamojong will continue to do so.
Karamojong resort to Neem plant to treat malaria