Great Progress in Cameroon

According to the WHO, malaria is the most widespread endemic disease in Cameroon. Cameroon is one of the 11 most malaria-affected countries in the world, and last year recorded over 3 million cases of malaria and almost 4,000 deaths, the majority among children under 5 and pregnant women.

Rapid nationwide expansion

A total of 11 Artemisia Houses have been opened in Cameroon since 2017, covering the entire country, with the official opening of Cameroon’s national Artemisia House at the end of December 2021, chaired by Dr Louise Mannegou.

One of the first Artemisia Houses was created under the impetus of Father Oscar Alain Wam, in the former technical college of the Catholic mission of Lablé in 2019. Two volunteers, Flora Bourbier and Martin Garaux, were tasked for 2 years with setting up the Bafia Artemisia House, housed at the Calaos farm. With the support of Fidesco, another pair of volunteers, Loïc and Margot de Saint Léon, took over for 2 years to complete the set-up of this Artemisia House. Their mission comes to an end at the end of July 2023.

One of the first major projects carried out by the volunteers was to set up an Artemisia herbal tea processing unit in Bafia, with the appropriate infrastructure and equipment to meet the specific requirements of good hygiene conditions and guarantee a product of optimum quality. This project was financed by our loyal partner Socaps, to whom we extend our warmest thanks

The processing unit has a drying capacity of 3,000 kgs for fresh products, a dry storage space of 1,500 kgs, and a production capacity of 5,000 bags containing doses for one month’s treatment. This site is designed to serve the health sector (doctors and medical prescriptions, hospitals, health centers, etc.) in coordination with the 8 producers in Cameroon and all the members of the association!

Renovation of the Bafia processing plant
Loic and Margot with some of the producers who work together on the collective farm of the new processing center, built to Ministry of Health standards.

Marketing authorization

December 2022, great news: Marketing Authorization (MA) obtained for Artemisia annua and Artemisia afra, enabling the development of distribution channels to hospitals, health centers…

To mark the occasion, packaging was redesigned and a 35g sachet can now be purchased with 7 x 5g doses for a 7-day curative treatment.

Numerous awareness-raising and communication campaigns

2.5 million people attended national and local outreach events during 2022 via the CAN2021 FanZone, medical center managers, pharmacies, parishes, schools, health centers, markets, mosques, etc..

Outreach in schools
Awareness-raising on the May 1st holiday

Prison distribution: -90% of malaria cases in May at the Bafia prison during a month-long free distribution of herbal tea every other day to 400 inmates.

85% estimated savings on the health budget for the parents of 60 young seminarians in Bafia since they began taking Artemisia preventively in the 2022-2023 school year.

Another interesting awareness-raising initiative is the creation, at the initiative of the Maroua Artemisia House, of the “Matfaï ARTEMISIA FC” soccer team, which is the pride of an entire district.

This soccer team was created in 2021 following the “Malaria-free Vacations” project financed by Paris.

The MAFC football club is a big family that mobilizes some fifty young people generating a buzz about Artemisia in the Mindif district and beyond.

One of the objectives of the Artemisia Houses is to distribute Artemisia to those who are most vulnerable.

The Maroua Artemisia House is a fine example, having obtained the Governor’s authorization to run an Artemisia project for 1 year at the Minawao Nigerian Refugee Camp (79,000 refugees from 19,000 households), with 3 phases:

  1. Raise awareness of the benefits of Artemisia among refugees and local residents.
  2. Train 100 refugee volunteers in Artemisia cultivation.
  3. Distribute around 21,000 Artemisia afra plants to refugees.

Scientific awareness-raising events

Dr Manegou, Prof Njoya, Prof Nwaga, Prof Mpondo and Prof Same Ekobo lead scientific awareness sessions for the National Artemisia House every April on World Malaria Day:

  • 2021 at the University of Yaounde 1 (Faculty of Science),
  • 2022 at the Universities of Ngaounderé (Faculty of Science), Douala (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences) and Yaoundé (Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences: over 400 people in attendance).

In addition, researchers, students and young graduates (medicine, biological sciences, pharmacy), new members, more active players in research activities (agronomy, biofertilization, phytochemical tests, pre-clinical trials) are joining us on Artemisia afra and annua.

Students from State Universities, led by members of the National Artemisia House, are carrying out research on evaluating the potential of selected microbial bio-fertilizers on the performance (agronomic and phytochemical) of Artemisia afra and annua!!!!

A study full of hope

In other good news, a preliminary survey for a clinical study published in July 2023 showed that 2/3 of healthcare workers in the Centre region were familiar with Artemisia afra as a treatment for asymptomatic malaria. And 79% were prepared to prescribe it if authorized to do so. An incredible score which shows that awareness-raising campaigns have a positive impact, though it takes time!

National Coordination gets stronger

For the Artemisia chain to become established in a country, it is essential for local Artemisia Houses to come together in a National Artemisia House to ensure coordination at national level.

In Cameroon, the national association was created at the end of 2021 and recognized by the Prefecture of Yaoundé.  Louise Manegou is President and Prof Nwaga Dieudonné, Secretary General of the Board of Directors. To date, the association has 8 members.

National Coordination is steadily taking shape, and for it to be effective, the following are essential:

  1. Representation of all players at the National Artemisia House: producers, processors, sellers, communicators, doctors etc.
  2. Fluid communication and regular meetings
  3. Joint work on marketing
  4. Mutual trust and transparent actions.

Two years ago, part of the National Artemisia House team visited the Providence Farm in Banigbé, Benin. They were also able to visit the Songhaï center in Porto Novo and draw inspiration for the development of projects in Cameroon.

A new volunteer duo, André and Clarisse de Maupeou, will be joining the Bafia team in October 2023 to continue developing the Bafia project and support the National Coordination.