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Doh Now Taking 'Tawa-Tawa' Seriously

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DOH now taking 'tawa-tawa' seriously in fight vs dengue
CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines – A weed known as tawa-tawa has become a serious matter for the Department of Health (DOH), which is now considering the proposal of herbalist and former health secretary Jaime Galvez Tan to fund a research on the plant as possible panacea to the fatal bleeding among dengue victims.
Health Assistant Secretary Elmer Punzalan said here yesterday that the Philippine Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PTAHC), an agency under the DOH, is now coordinating with Tan on the latter’s proposal for a P20-million research fund to finally establish whether tawa-tawa arrests bleeding, which is the main reason why dengue victims die.
The weed is said to prevent hemorrhaging by normalizing platelet count in the blood.
According to latest DOH reports, dengue cases in the country this year have already breached the 90,000 mark.
Punzalan bared this in a press conference during the launch here of the two-day Generic Medicine Expo for Luzon, a joint project of the DOH and the National Center for Pharmaceutical Access and Management, in partnership with SM Prime Holdings Inc.
The expo aims “to boost and sustain advocacy on quality affordable medicine through generics’ use and its role and importance in improving wellness and compliance of patients to treatment regimens.”
Earlier, Dr. Eric Tayag, chief epidemiologist of the DOH, dismissed tawa-tawa as cure for dengue as not enough research on it has been done.
Tayag was also quoted as warning that the plant encourages frequent urination that could lead to dehydration.
Tan has publicly endorsed the use of tawa-tawa, scientifically known as Euphorbia hirta, as the government has to contend with dengue cases annually.
“It’s about time the government invests. I agree with more honest labeling, but the government should not just regulate but also put money in research,” he said.
Tan said some P20 million would be needed for research to find out the genuine efficacy of tawa-tawa. Half of the fund would be used for random clinical trials, he said.
In the absence of any direct treatment for dengue, Tan has also cited other natural remedies, including red, orange and yellow-colored natural fruit juices, which are rich in antioxidants, and vitamins A and C that could boost immunity against the dengue virus.
He said juices from boiled kamote and kangkong tops, sili leaves, malunggay, and saluyot are also anti-inflammatory.
Tan also advocated the intake of one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil three times a day, saying the oil has been proven to be an effective anti-viral by destroying viruses.
“We are taking his proposal on tawa-tawa seriously,” Punzalan said, even as he also bared ongoing studies being done by the Department of Science and Technology to develop a vaccine against dengue.
Punzalan said Western countries are not interested in doing pharmaceutical research for a vaccine or antidote to dengue since the ailment, carried by mosquito Aedes Agypti, is common only in tropical countries such as the Philippines.
By Ding Cervantes | Updated October 1, 2010 - 12:00am

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