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Samoan plants medicinal value studied

The use of Samoan plants as medicinal treatment for non-communicable diseases (NCD) could soon be scientifically proven and accepted for Samoans to use. 

This was revealed in an interview with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua. 

As part of an initiative by the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS), Lopao’o said the remedy could be Samoa’s answer to combating NCD which he describes as “deadly diseases”. 

A report from World Health Organisation (WHO) dated 2015 stated an estimate of 94 per cent of the adult population is overweight and 75 per cent obese. 

In addition, almost half of the population surveyed had diabetes. 

At the National Kidney Foundation, patients as young as 15 are being treated for dialysis with 130 patients currently receiving treatment at Moto’otua. 

Lopao’o told the Sunday Samoan the objective is to utilise the expertise of Samoan scientists at SROS to test Samoan plants that can possibly be used to cure deadly diseases. 

“It goes something like this if we can make a pill that treats high blood pressure from something that comes out of coconut for an example then why not,” said the Minister. 

“For the plants found here we have here we are looking at what we can extract from our Samoan plants and have it scientifically proven that it can cure these deadly diseases.

“If we can find in forest those plants that can be better substitute then why not. We are trying to save our own people.”

The Minister made it clear he is not suggesting that people should stop going to the doctor to get medically diagnosed.  

He said it should not pose a threat to people seeking medical advice, but the intention of SROS is to provide medicine substitute made from Samoan plants. 

The initiative has already gained the support of Cabinet which has approved a sum of $250,000 for SROS to buy equipment to conduct testing and take on the project. SROS together with the Minister has already gone out in the field to take a look at some of the plants that can be used for their testing. 

While the Minister declined to give out the list of the plants they have looked at, he assured that if the plants are scientifically proven and checked by other scientists overseas, their next move is to register it. 

Asked to explain, he said such research are Intellectual Property (IP) that needs to be registered with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL). 

The organisation is already in the process of registering their avocado oil, essential oil from moso’oi tree and other researched products. 

Asked about the current progress of the medicinal plans, Lopao’o said it is work in progress.

“It has started and we have received approval from Cabinet to get machine and equipment but now you have to give us a chance to make progress.”

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