Madagascar’s much touted herbal Covid-19 cure, may have received some support from the World Health Organisation, WHO, after the global health body stated that it welcomes innovations around the world, including traditional medicines, and developing new therapies, in the search for potential treatments for Covid-19.
This was contained in a Press release issued by the WHO.
The Press release reads: “WHO recognises that traditional, complementary, and alternative medicine, have many benefits, and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations. Medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua; are being considered as possible treatments for Covid-19, and should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects.
“Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world. Even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical”, the WHO stated in the release.
Today’s Echo understands that Madagascar is building a factory to mass-produce a drink from the extracts of the artimisia annua plant, which is used to treat malaria. The factory will be operational within a month, according to President Andry Rajoelina.
“Our Researchers and Scientists are doing the necessary to make our coronavirus remedy, a drug that meets the standards”, he said on a local State TV.
Madagascar’s herbal drink has also received a boost from other African countries. The President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, has said that he is sending a plane to Madagascar to fetch the tonic, and Rajoelina stated on Twitter, that Equatorial Guinea’s Vice Minister for Health, had arrived in the country, to procure an unknown quantity. Other countries that have shown interest are Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Comoros, Rajoelina said.
African governments through their Ministers of Health, adopted a resolution urging member States to produce evidence on the safety, efficacy, and quality of traditional medicine, at the 50th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, in 2000.
Countries also agreed to undertake relevant research and require national medicines regulatory Agencies, to approve medicines in line with international standards, which include the product following a strict research protocol and undergoing tests and clinical trials. These studies normally involve hundreds of people under the monitoring of the national regulatory authorities, and may take quite a few months in an expedited process.
The WHO is working with research institutions to select traditional medicine products which can be investigated for clinical efficacy and safety for Covid-19 treatment. In addition, the Organisation will continue to support countries as they explore the role of traditional health practitioners in prevention, control, and early detection of the virus as well as case referral to health facilities, it noted.
“Over the past two decades, the WHO has been working with countries, to ensure safe and effective traditional medicine development in Africa, by providing financial resources and technical support.
“The WHO has supported clinical trials, leading 14 countries to issue marketing authorisation for 89 traditional medicine products, which have met international and national requirements for registration. Of these, 43 have been included in national essential medicines lists. These products are now part of the arsenal to treat patients with a wide range of diseases, including malaria, opportunistic infections related to HIV, diabetes, sickle cell disease and hypertension. Almost all countries in the WHO African region, have national traditional medicine policies, following support from the WHO.
“As efforts are under way to find treatment for Covid-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on the social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy. The use of products to treat Covid-19, which have not been robustly investigated, can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing, which are cardinal in Covid-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication, and the risk to patient safety.
“WHO welcomes every opportunity to collaborate with countries and Researchers, to develop new therapies, and encourages such collaboration for the development of effective and safe therapies for Africa and the world”, the WHO added.