KARACHI: While sharing concerns over growing human body resistance against commonly used antibiotics resulting in loss of their effectiveness, speakers at an international conference held at Karachi University (KU) on Wednesday emphasised the need for exploring the potential of herbal medicines in Pakistan to treat various diseases including Covid-19.
Some of these medicines, they pointed out, had already proven their efficacy and were in use in several countries for decades.
The conference was held in connection with the establishment of the Sino-Pakistan Cooperation Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine at the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS).
The research facility was inaugurated at a ceremony held earlier in the day.
‘Clinical trials showed encouraging results’
“The clinical trials currently in progress to test the efficacy of Chinese traditional medicines on Pakistani population have shown very encouraging results. One of these medicines, a kind of herbal tea, was widely and effectively used during the Covid-19 outbreak in China,” said Prof Raza Shah, co-director of the newly opened research facility.
Another clinical trial on Chinese medicine used for a pelvic inflammatory disease would start next week, he added.
These trials, he pointed out, would also help assess efficacy of the allopathic/conventional medicines being used for certain diseases in Pakistan.
Sino-Pakistan Cooperation Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine at Karachi University formally inaugurated
“What we are seeing is that allopathic/conventional medicines in use for decades have lost their effectiveness due to growing human body resistance against antibiotics being developed due to multiple factors. These antibiotics also have a range of side effects. Hence, it’s extremely important to explore the potential of herbal medicines,” he said.
The Pak-China research collaboration, he said, included the establishment of an institute for ‘Unani medicine’ in China.
Connected online during the programme, the Chinese researchers shed light on the traditional medicines being used for treatment of various diseases for a long time. There was great reliance on herbal medicines during the Covid-19 pandemic, they said.
At the inaugural ceremony, the speakers highlighted how Pak-China relationship was making headway in education and research.
“Pakistan should take a lesson from China, which has made great progress in all sectors of socio-economic development. The close relations between the two countries on the fronts of science and technology, higher education, and information technology are encouraging” noted Prof Dr Atta-ur-Rahman, chairman of Prime Minister’s Task Force on Science and Technology.
He mentioned that Pak Austrian University of Applied Science and Engineering was established in Haripur, part of Hazara division in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in collaboration with five Chinese universities.
Dr Rahman described the new Pak-China research facility at ICCBS as a great initiative and said it would open new avenues for discoveries in the field of traditional medicines.
ICCBS role in research praised
Sindh Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said the establishment of the Sino-Pakistan Cooperation Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine would play a vital role in promotion of the traditional medicines in both countries.
“The ICCBS is contributing its role remarkably in the area of research and higher education,” she said.
Acting KU Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Khalid M. Iraqi welcomed the national and international participants and briefed them about the Covid-19 related research carried out at ICCBS during the ongoing pandemic.
Pakistan and China, he pointed out, had strong collaboration especially in terms of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor — a framework of regional connectivity.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque in his online speech congratulated both Chinese and Pakistani officials on the achievement and said around 80 per cent of the world population relied on herbal medicines, while Unani and Chinese traditional medicines had been in use in Pakistan for centuries.
ICCBS director Prof Dr M. Iqbal Choudhary said the prime objective of this event was to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan.
“Seven decades of relationship between the two brotherly counties are now translating into institutional collaboration. China has become the hub for knowledge, offering great learning opportunities,” he said.
He also spoke about ICCBS’ research endeavours and said several clinical trials on various Chinese medicines were in progress at the centre. It’s the only institution in Pakistan which was not only certified by ISO but it also had been awarded the status of Centre for Excellence Category-2 Institute of Unesco.
Speakers included Deputy Chief of Mission Chinese Embassy in Pakistan Chunxue Pang and Mayor Li Chunqiu, Huaihua, Hunan Province, China, and Hamdard Foundation president Sadia Rashid.
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2021