WHO supports development of traditional medicine for Covid-19

Published Jul 26, 2020


DURBAN - The World Health Organization (WHO) and Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) have now formed a committee to aid African countries in the use of traditional medicine against the novel Coronavirus.

In a statement, the two organisations said they joined efforts to enhance research and development efforts on traditional medicine against the pandemic.

In the early days of the pandemic, the medical use of the traditional herb umhlonyane (Artemisia afra) became popular after President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar said artemisia is among the herbs being used in his country to cure Covid-19.

The 25-member regional expert committee will support countries in collaborative efforts to conduct clinical trials of traditional treatments in compliance with international standards, the statement said.

"Interest in traditional medicine as potential remedies for Covid-19 is growing in Africa. As the world races to find treatment and vaccines against the virus, research into traditional and orthodox medicines as potential Covid-19 therapy must be grounded in science, and today marks an important step in supporting these endeavours," said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

According to the statement, the experts' committee will start work immediately. "Developing a master protocol to guide countries on clinical trials for Covid-19 and setting the agenda to support Member States will be among the initial tasks."

Meanwhile the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation also reassigned R15 million from existing indigenous knowledge projects to support Covid-19 interventions, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande.

"The programme has been working with the African Medicines Covid-19 Research Team in researching several South African herbs and formulations, with documented evidence for treatment of respiratory infections, signs and symptoms," he said.

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