A herbal tonic from Madagascar has broken boundaries as the President of the country has sworn by it and instructed that it should be used to treat its citizens who contract the virus. Since then, other African countries, including Senegal and Nigeria, have joined the list.
Meanwhile, despite opposition from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other agencies, claims to traditional herbal cures for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have gathered momentum in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to deploy the Madagascar herbal drug for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Nigeria once it is approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
The move however has been has criticized by many in the country as the Federal Government had earlier on rejected similar herbal drugs brought forward by its own scientists even before the announcement of the Madagascan Elixir.
And despite claims by the Presidency last Thursday that it did not order for the herbal tonic from Madagascar, saying it was offered to the country, health workers in Nigeria including pharmacists, nurses and medical laboratory scientists and the House of Representatives have kicked against the plan to import the herbal tonic – COVID-Organics (CVO) – from Madagascar.
But the Minister Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire had said during the PTF briefing last Monday that the plant used for the Madagascar herbal medicine grows in the country. He said the expected samples would be compared with the strain in Nigeria to ascertain its similarities.
“We understand that it is something called Artemisia annua, which also grows here. But we would like to get that sample and compare it with the strain here to know if they are exactly identical or similar and then see what properties it has. It will be subjected to analysis to find out what works in there and how it works and is used in getting a cure.
“All countries around the world are interested in finding a cure and we are not different; so we will look at all options, possibilities and promises that were made,” he said.
On May 4, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that it welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19.
A statement by the world health body read in part:
“WHO recognises that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has 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, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical.
Source: The Guardian News