The resultant case for the use of daily small- cone moxa in the fight to contain TB in AfricaThis section of the website devoted to tuberculosis identifies several major problems in the battle to contain this terrible disease in Africa. To summarise, these are
- High rates of latent disease
- Emerging drug resistance
- The complications caused by high incidence of co-infection with HIV/AIDS
- The likelihood that any new drugs will be too expensive and may not be appropriate for a resource-poor environment
- The absence of any effective vaccine
- The problems of accurate and unavailable diagnosis which is vital to safe and effective treatment
If there is any doubt remaining as to how serious the problem is, one only needs to review what the recognised experts are publicly saying in the subject.
It would seem clear that any appropriate strategy to confront and contain the epidemic in Africa necessarily needs to allow for all or as many of these factors for it to have a chance of success. This is why some degree of innovation is going to be needed.
The Moxafrica charity is tentatively proposing that small-cone direct moxa may be appropriate because it would appear to allow for most of these problems.
Moxa treatment does not require diagnosis. It can be safely applied in literally the most barefoot of applications.
It can be used alongside existing medication of any sort - in fact anecdotal evidence to date suggests that it significantly reduces their pernicious side-effects, one of the factors which contributes not just to non-compliance but also to the morbidity and mortality rates.
Anecdotal evidence also supports the hypothesis that co-infected patients respond positively.
It may also reduce periods of infection. If this proved to be the case in drug resistant patients this could have a huge positive impact on the spread of drug-resistant disease.
And of course it is cheap, unpatentable, and its production could quite possibly be developed as a viable cottage industry in sub-tropical regions of the continent
The most extreme but most exciting possibility is that its suspected immuno-therapeutic effects may be enough to successfully treat MDR-TB alongside currently ineffective first line drugs. If this were provable, not only would a viable treatment become available for literally millions of people directly threatened by this disease who currently have nothing (and for whom none is likely to be available for perhaps at least a generation), but its cost could be as much as over one hundred times cheaper than the existing second line treatment used by MSF in South Africa. There is a possibility, as well, that survival rates might be higher.
The challenge is to ensure that each and every one of these possibilities is thoroughly investigated because any one of them is a potential game-changer.