Did you know that paw-paw seeds can be used to make deworming tablets for children? Well, it is possible, as a team of three students found out.
By Esther Namirimu
KAMPALA - Did you know that paw-paw seeds can be used to make deworming tablets for children? Well, it is possible, and this has been demonstrated by students at Kitante Hill School.
Three Senior Six students of Sciences recently made drugs from pawpaw [papaya] seeds.
Christine Nalukwago, Jovia Anyango and Gloria Asubira, all studying a combination of Biology, Chemistry, Agriculture and sub-Mathematics have now become a school model with their invention.
The trio started the project last year during a competition with other east African students.
The team participated in the East African Region Girl’s Intel Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fair competition 2012, and came only second after a Rwandan team.
“We wanted to save lives of the affected children most especially those in rural areas who cannot afford deworming medicine,” says Nalukwago.
The project source of inspiration to embark on the project did not come far from their boundaries.
“When I was young, my grandmother used to force us to swallow pawpaw seeds. It took me time to realize why she was doing this.
“But later on when I grew up I told my friends about it and we experimented out by putting intestinal worms in a solution of pawpaw seeds, and they died,” remarks Nalukwago.
Determined, the team then prepared the solution by drying the pawpaw seeds under the sun, then grinding them and there after mixing the fine substance with banana flour and finally adding water.
They also added sugar to sweeten the medicine as the crashed pawpaw seeds have a bitter taste.
Banana flour acts as a filler material. It also contains reducing sugars which can be broken down to glucose – a rich source of energy.
“We put the solution in mould to dry, and we ended up deworming tablets,” explains Anyango.
The young scientists say that this is their biggest achievement since they started the health project. But that is just one hurdle leapt over of many several others that lay in wait.
The team explains that they need support from qualified personnel before their drugs are experimented, approved, patented and accepted for human consumption.
According to Asubira, the biggest challenge they face is a deficiency in exposure.
“We are not exposed and there is no one who knows that we hold this vast amount of knowledge.
“Since we are candidates [finalists] offering tough subjects, we do not have enough time to read at the same time carry on our project,” she says.
“The cold weather is also a big problem since we cannot dry the seeds and bananas easily.”
Pawpaw deworming tablets project thrives