KUALA LUMPUR: Dengue patients, who have difficulties in consuming the bitter papaya leaf extract to accelerate their recovery, can look forward to a more palatable substitute.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry was working on a project to process the extract into tablets for easy consumption.
He said the project was initiated following a Institute for Medical Research (IMR) clinical study, which found that the extract could help increase the blood-platelet count of dengue patients.
â€œWe are working on it,â€ Dr Noor Hisham told the New Straits Times yesterday.
His deputy, Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai, said the project was still in the preliminary stage, as processing the extract into tablets involved intricate procedures.
â€œWe need to ensure that the nutrients are maintained during the process,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr H.
Krishna Kumar cautioned that medical experts needed to analyse the exact dosage of the extract before it could be prescribed to dengue patients.
â€œWe also need to know what is the best way to consume the extract and whether there are any side effects to patients.â€ He said health authorities should not jump to conclusions with just a single study.
â€œA comprehensive and large randomised multi-centred trial should be done to analyse the robust data before experts can quantify the benefits and risks of the Carica papaya leaf extract.â€ Dr Hisham had, on Wednesday, confirmed IMRâ€™s findings that the extract had shown to increase blood-platelet count and assist in the recovery of dengue patients with fewer complications.
However, he said, the damage from a dengue infection could be more than a platelet count issue, such as blood plasma leakage or dengue shock syndrome, in which dangerously low blood pressure could occur.
The IMR study, led by Dr Soobitha Subenthiran and a team from the Bioassay Unit under the IMRâ€™s Herbal Medicine Research Centre, revealed that consumption of Carica papaya leaf extract during the course of dengue infection had the potential to induce the rapid production of platelets.
The researchers had conducted clinical trials on 228 dengue fever and dengue haemorrhagic fever patients, in which half were given the extract for three consecutive days while the remaining received standard dengue treatment.
The two groups were constantly monitored and their blood platelet count checked every eight hours for 48 hours.
It was found the group that was administered the extract showed a significant increase in their platelet count.
IMR, in a circular to state health directors on Sept 19, stated that it would soon share its findings and distribute pamphlets detailing the correct preparation and use of the extract for dengue patients to government hospitals and clinics.-NST