Zambia has begun trials of new herbal medicines to if it can be used to treat HIV/Aids, it says. Twenty-five people with HIV will take part in the three-month trial, which the health minister said conforms to World Health Organization guidelines.
The United Nations estimates that one in six Zambians has HIV/Aids.
An AIDS charity spokesperson was sceptical about the trials, saying the only known effective treatment was anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.
At a press conference in the Zambian capital Lusaka, Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said: "It is a momentous occasion for Zambia which establishes a partnership between conventional medicine and traditional medicine."
Dr Patrick Chikusu, principal investigator of clinical trials of traditional herbal remedies, said 14 natural remedies had been narrowed down to three to be submitted to the final stage of clinical trials, reports BBC.
One in five Zambians is infected with HIV or is living with AIDS. The country has 10 million people.
Dr Patrick Chikusu, said 14 natural remedies were initially submitted for preliminary tests, but only three had made it to the final stage of clinical trials.
Health Minister Sylvia Masebo said the three drugs had been checked thoroughly to ensure they were not toxic.
"It is a momentous occasion for Zambia which establishes a partnership between conventional medicine and traditional medicine," Masebo told reporters at the same news conference.
Chikusu said 25 patients had been placed on the three herbal remedies on a three-month trial basis.
He identified the remedies as the Sondashi Formulation invented by the former minister, the Mailacin Formulation, which was developed by a school teacher, and the Mayeyanin Formulation.
Doctors say that despite some price rebates to poor countries and limited government assistance, Western-made life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs cost as much as $500 per monthly dose in Zambia, well beyond the reach of many poor people with HIV, informs Reuters.