Project information

Moxafrica - fighting drug-resistant TB in Africa

In Japan in the 1930’s “moxa” or “moxibustion” was documented as being effective in treating TB - with accompanying research. Cheap, low-tech and unpatentable, and effective before the arrival of TB drugs, might it be particularly applicable to treat DR-TB in resource poor environments today?

March 2011 - March 2012

Charity information: Moxafrica

Moxafrica logo
  • Need


    The lack of any type of adequate resource in most countries in the developing world to combat the emerging deadly strains of DR-TB makes this problem impossible to effectively deal with. Without new drugs and vaccines, and a massive input of financial resource into frail infrastructures, a massive outbreak of drug resistant disease is almost inevitable. Nothing significant is in the pipeline.
    In combination with HIV/AIDS this problem is even more acute, exacerbating everything incrementally.


    If we are able to confirm the preliminary results already obtained with a small cohort of patients, we will have identified a cheap low-tech treatment which can be implemented wherever resources are too poor to effectively fight the emerging plague of drug-resistant TB even in the presence of HIV/AIDS. For potentially hundreds of thousands of patients this could offer the only realistic resource for them in the absence of any other available treatment and could save otherwise unsaveable lives.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To refine the treatment method to render it most appropriate to the African patient group


    » Identifying one or more health centres in South Africa interested in collaborating in the project. (done)
    » Training health workers in each centre in the techniques for them to train and supervise their patients and their carers in ongoing treatment.
    » To maintain ongoing communication with health workers to identify problems of compliance or safety issues should they arise.
    » To analyse these and implement changes if identified as important to progress.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measurable by levels of patient compliance.

    Aim 2

    Support a twelve month programme of moxibustion treatment for otherwise difficult-to-treat patients


    » Provide ongoing supplies of the material (moxa) for the duration of the project.
    » Provide ongoing advice and additional support if required.
    » Ensure that patients are monitored on a regular basis.
    » Identify particularly high-risk patients and ensure that every effort is made to monitor their individual responses.

    What success will look like

    Success will be measurable by the ongoing support and involvement of the heath workers, and the reported response of the patients involved.

    Aim 3

    To supply, support and help gather and collate auditable information


    » Conduct regular interviews with both health workers and patients to identify efficacy or problem areas (including filming if appropriate).
    » Gather any relevant statistics including blood counts, infectivity data, mortality, default and recovery data.
    » Provide all support to facilitate this.

    What success will look like

    Success will be the accumulation of a usable body of information with which to prepare a final report.

    Aim 4

    To analyse the finally completed audit for the purpose of the fourth aim


    » Collate all information gathered from the above and prepare a comprehensive report.

    What success will look like

    Success will manifest in a persuasive and intelligible report on the project.

    Aim 5

    Lobby a university in Africa to develop more controlled research based on the information gathered


    » Developing the existing tentative links with two universities in Africa, and/or establishing new ones, and providing them with the completed report.
    » Helping the university in the design of further controlled research if invited, based on clinical experiences.

    What success will look like

    Success will be quite easily definable on the commitment of one or more universities to develop more controlled research into the efficacy of moxa in the treatment of TB in Africa

  • Impact


    Potentially, it helps stem the tide of this epidemic in Africa, even in the presence of HIV co-infection. Potentially it might save hundreds of thousands of otherwise unsaveable lives afflicted by a disease in an environment in which it is largely effectively untreatable.

    Ultimate success can only be defined by measurably reduced rates of mortality and infection, but earlier measures of success will be measurable by any positive results published by the universities' own controlled research.


    There are always safety risks in medicine. Safety has been the primary concern in a high-risk immune compromised patient group.

    The preliminary work already done in Kampala has addressed these issues with proper reporting procedures put in place. No reports of adverse events have been reported nine months into this first project, but similar systems will be implemented in South Africa.


    We already provide regular updates on both our website and our Facebook group pages. "E-newsletters" are also used as a way of supplying information to selected supporters and donors with their consent.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £29,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £3,500 moxa and ancillaries purchase and supply
      £12,000 Flights and accomodation Quarterly visits from the UK for monitoring
      £6,000 Stipends payment to local health workers
      £2,000 Subsistence to patinets travel and refreshment costs to patinents coming for interviews
      £4,000 admin trustee loss of earning expenses
      £2,000 miscellaneous general expenses
  • Background


    South Africa is the epicentre of drug-resistant TB in Africa, and the global epicentre for DR-TB with HIV-co-infection. Estimates are known to be inaccurate but are as accurate as anywhere in Africa and are being revised ever upwards.

    Nyanga township is in Capetown. Capetown itself is one of the two epicentres of the disease in South Africa itself.

    Increasing frequency of reports of primary infection with DR-TB are being reported in the townships.


    Poverty in South African townships is rife, and TB makes its home in populations such as these, with an exacerbation from refugee populations which are often temporary from Zimbabwe.
    Cases of simultaneous infections with more than a single strain of TB are now being reported, something which was previously considered impossible.
    This population has little in hand to help it fight this plague, and the potential outbreak of more virulent strains might leave it with nothing at all.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have been working on this for three years. We have studied the history of moxa treatment for consumptive disease in the historical literature of Chinese medicine; recovered and translated papers from the 1930's from Japan on the subject (and published two papers ourselves on the immunological effects of moxa). We have conducted our own tests of moxa temperatures with a paper due in 2011. We have conducted a nine month pilot study in Kampala assessing preliminary indicators of efficacy.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Merlin Young

    Co-founder and Chair

    Jenny Craig

    Co-founder and Secretary

About moxibustion and the plague of tuberculosis

Every time we look the problem is worse than we thought..with HIV it could be the most frightening thing we are ever going to see

Dr Jim Yong Kim, former Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department