Meghalaya village Quinine Nongladew latches on to its past in search for COVID-19 cure 

#GS2 #Health #COVID19 

  • Hydroxychloroquine may not be the answer to SARS-CoV-2 or the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • But quinine, its most primitive antimalarial avatar, has made a village in Meghalaya latch on to its past for a curative future. 
  • Welcome to Quinine Nongladew, a village named after the alkaloid quinine extracted from the bark of cinchona, a plant belonging to the Rubiaceae family and classified as either a large shrub or a small tree. 
  • The village, about 70 km south of Guwahati, is on the highway to Meghalaya’s capital Shillong. 
  • Meghalaya’s Forests and Environment Department has no records on the Quinine Garden.  
  • Badhok Nongmalieh, an entrepreneur who documents local histories, said the cinchona nursery was raised in the 19th century, probably around 1874, when Shillong became the British administrative headquarters for Assam Province. 
  • Large swathes of Meghalaya used to be, and still are, malaria-prone. 
  • The British had the foresight to start the plantation to combat malaria and other diseases caused by mosquitoes.  
  • The nursery on an unknown area fell into disuse by the mid-1950s. 
  • One of the reasons is that the Forest Department has no control over the area where a few cinchonas grow uncared for. 
  • People in the olden days collected the bark of the plant and ground it to administer to malaria patients. 
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has generated interest among locals in the cinchona tree. 
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