Indigenous people in remote Top End communities are still using traditional medicinal plants – topically mostly, for skin conditions. The skin diseases that traditional medicinal plants are being used to treat are at epidemic levels. We need different solutions, and we need to respect and engage Aboriginal people in the process of discovering them. We need effective medicines that actually get used.
A team of botanists, chemists and microbiologists is already assembled. The Menzies Child Health Indigenous Reference Group, members of which helped identify the need for this study, will facilitate consultations with traditional knowledge holders. Further research is required on traditional medicinal plants and specifically to address the intercept between Indigenous medicines and western therapies.
This program has major potential to bring Indigenous knowledge together with Western concepts about infectious disease prevention and treatment. Following extensive testing and chemical characterisation, prototype healthcare products would be developed with pilot studies in Indigenous communities.
This project holds the promise of exciting new research discovery about traditional Indigenous medicinal plants, and potentially, deliver long term impact on the prevention of future skin diseases.