There has perhaps not been more interest in African medicinal herbs in post-colonial Uganda than during the COVID-19 pandemic. So much was the interest and demand for herbal remedies that the Ministry of Health had to come out and give public warnings about the herbs insisting that many of them could be poisonous while others could be harmful due to lack of information on proper prescription.

Despite that warning, the interest in herbal medicine remained high until the pandemic waned. This was partly because the hospitals lacked enough facilities for all suffering from COVID-19, people were locked up in homes with no means of transport to access health facilities, and the strangeness of the disease made people to turn to traditional medicine which sustained Africans for centuries.
There are many testimonies in Uganda now by people who claim to have survived COVID-19 purely because of the herbal remedies.

There are over 50,000 plants in Africa said to have medicinal properties and these plants helped Africans to treat different types of diseases before colonialists started establishing modern hospitals in the last half of the 19th century.

The colonial government together with the new religious faiths that they came with fought hard to discredit traditional African medicine often associating it with witchcraft. Herbal medicine survived largely because for many people it was not easy to access the modern health facilities.

However, with modern education and constantly demonizing herbal medicine by schools and religious leaders, many people especially the youth steadily turned away from it, making it hard for the knowledge about it to be passed to the young generation. Additionally, modern methods of farming that involve extensive bush clearing and deforestation are making it hard for communities to access herbal medicine.

It should therefore be noted that African indigenous herbal medicine can only thrive where there is sustained biodiversity and where there is sustained knowledge on its use.

A problem is cropping up where some companies claiming to have knowledge about herbal medicine have started processing it for sell. This is taking away the roles of community custodians of this knowledge who have preserved it for generations and who find it their duty to freely share it with the new generations.

AIBIS therefore will continue to run campaigns against deforestation and turning natural forests into monoculture agriculture plantations as a way of preserving African herbal medicine. AIBIS will also work to amplify voices of community custodians of indigenous knowledge on herbal medicine by creating several platforms for them to share their knowledge. AIBIS will also encourage volunteers to grow as many these traditional herbal medicinal plants in their farms.

On its own, AIBIS will establish a demonstration farm for African herbal medicine varieties and document through research how this medicine can be used for the benefit of the coming generations.