The discovery of antibiotics by Alexander Fleming in 1928 was celebrated as a major breakthrough in the medical world as bacterial infections became easily treated. But Fleming warned that over time, the drugs would become less efficacious. He was vindicated in 1940’s when the first case of resistance was reported.
Currently, cases of antibiotic resistance are on the rise and this makes the treatment of various bacterial infections expensive and complicated. The phenomenon of antibiotic resistance is caused by among other factors bacterial mutations and development of mechanisms that hinder drugs from acting against various bacteria. However, misuse of antibiotics accelerates cases of drug resistance.
In early 2023, the media was awash with cases of drug resistant gonorrhea dubbed ‘super gonorrhea’ being reported in Nairobi. City-based pharmacist Dr. Maina Mwea who has since specialized in herbal medicine has seen the rise of patients visiting his Hurlingham clinic for the treatment of drug resistant gonorrhea.
“I have encountered many cases. The disease has become resistant because some pharmacists and doctors are just dishing out antibiotics,” he tells the Standard.
Studied Pharmacy in the UK
Dr. Mwea was raised in Nyeri County. Through a government scholarship, he went on to study pharmacy in the UK between 1972 and 1976. The medic then rose to become the Chief Pharmacist at Kenyatta National Hospital. He would later develop an interest in herbal medicine and this influenced him to establish his Nairobi clinic. Mwea has also served as the chairperson of Nairobi Herbalists Association.
Drug resistant gonorrhea
The medic, now in his 70’s has conducted herbal medicine research in various countries such as UK and India. He manages various ailments such as fibroids, diabetes, high blood pressure, tuberculosis as well as infectious and non-infectious diseases using roots, leaves, and bark harvested from various parts of the country.
On drug resistant gonorrhea, he points out that cases of infidelity and wife swapping are to be blamed for the fast spread in Nairobi.
“Every disease has an origin, in this case, Nairobi has been labelled as a hotpot; on the other hand, cases of infidelity and wife swapping in Nairobi are becoming common in posh estates like Kilimani and Lavington. The disease starts with one couple and spreads faster,” he says.
In his clinic, clients suffering from venereal diseases are first tested to ascertain the specific disease that they suffer from. Mwea says that unlike conventional medicine, the concotions he makes ‘clears the system’.
“The beauty of herbal medicine is that it clears the system unlike the conventional treatment which sometimes demands patients must visit the hospital several times. Herbal medicine is a continuous learning process. I have extended my research on some medicinal herbs in India and even Britain,” he says.
In Kenya, getting a breakthrough into regulating herbal medicine practitioners has proved an uphill tasks. There also has been challenges in trying to integrate both conventional and herbal medicine with practitioners in both divides pointing accusing fingers at each other.
Through a past interview with Nation, Mwea lamented at the reluctance in passing the Traditional Medicines Bill saying conventional medicine manufacturers were afraid of the competition they would face.
“We are in need of the bill, but that is not going to be achieved soon if the medics are going to be allowed to meddle in the affairs of herbalists,” he said.