Four Thai teens win award for pioneering parasite-killing invention

Four high school students from Yala in southern Thailand won the New Gen Inventors Award 2023 for inventing a herbal product made from galangal leaves which kills parasites in raw foods in less than six minutes.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha praised the children for creating a practical product from readily available herbs which will improve the Thai population’s physical health, according to government spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek.

Parasitic infections are rife in Thailand, regularly linked to the consumption of raw or half-cooked meat and fish infested with parasites.

Despite the risks of eating raw food, dishes like larb made from raw minced pork or beef or Japanese sashimi made from thin slices of raw meat or fish remain popular dishes in Thailand.

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Four teenage girls from Tham Witthaya Foundation School came up with a solution so that raw food lovers can continue eating what they want without risking their health.

“Boega” is a product made from the powdered extract of galangal leaves.

Boega is easy to use. Just pour the powdered extract into a bowl of water, soak the raw food in it for 15-20 minutes, wash it off with clean water and it is safe to consume.

The students’ test results reveal that any parasites will be killed in an average of 5.94 minutes.

Normally, only the root of the galangal plant – similar to ginger root – is utilised, for cooking and medicine. However, this versatile plant’s leaves also hold powerful parasite-killing properties, as found out by the students.

The team consisted of four female Grade 12 students: Tasneem Chapakiya, Sufiani Bangopatae, Nurfaseela Duramee and Meerasa Adae.

The product’s use should be widely adopted in society, added PM Prayut.

A Singaporean couple made headlines yesterday after finding a live worm wriggling around on their sashimi at Don Don Donki, after almost finishing their food. If only they’d used the Boega product to soak the meat first.

In June last year, Thailand’s Department of Health sent out a statement warning the public that eating raw pork sashimi can kill you after it was found on the menu of a popular Japanese restaurant in Bangkok.

Raw pork contains harmful pathogens that are almost guaranteed to cause fever, headache, nausea and vomiting, skin rashes, diarrhoea and parasitic infection, according to the Director-General of the Department of Health Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai.

Last month, a Thai man who “loves to eat raw meat” posted a TikTok video warning others of the dangers posed by raw meat after a two-metre-long tapeworm was found in his body.

The man said he loves to eat raw beef and did so several times per month for two to three years.

An Australian woman made headlines last month after her mystery seven-year-long illness was finally diagnosed. Doctors found that a parasite called gnathostomiasis – caused by eating undercooked or raw fish, eels, frogs, birds or reptiles – was the cause. She contracted the illness in Thailand.

Every one of these disturbing cases could have been avoided with the use of Boega, a product made by four high schoolers which will, if widely implemented, be immensely beneficial to the health of the Thai nation.

Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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