As the world continues to grapple with the devastations caused by the novel coronavirus and the heightened race to find a vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged caution in consuming Madagascar’s herbal cure for the contagion.
The herbal remedy called COVID-Organics and developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA), contains Artemisia, a plant used to treat malaria. It is said to give results in seven days and was launched after being tested on 20 people over a period of three weeks.
In a statement, the WHO said: “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.”
“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,” it warned as the African Union began talks with Madagascar over the COVID-Organics.
“Once furnished with the details, the Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), will review the scientific data gathered so far on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 Organics.
“This review will be based on global technical and ethical norms to garner the necessary scientific evidence regarding the performance of the tonic,” the organization said in a statement.
Despite the WHO warning, several African countries, including Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Tanzania, and Comoros have already ordered COVID-Organics.
The WHO has since declaring the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic, supported numerous clinical trials, leading 14 countries to issue marketing authorization for 89 traditional medicine products that 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,” the organization said.