Corona cure?: All eyes on Madagascar

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula says Namibia welcomes Madagascar's coronavirus remedy.

19 May 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



The High Commissioner of South Africa, Archie Whitehead, says the days when the world turned its nose up at traditional medicines, like Madagascar's coronavirus remedy, are long gone.

This, he added, does not mean he is against subjecting traditional remedies to scientific examination.

The herbal drink, which was recently announced by Madagascar's president Andry Rajoelina as a prevention and treatment for the coronavirus, is reportedly produced from Artemisia annua (sweet wormwood) and other herbs.

Several countries, including Nigeria and Comoros, have allegedly ordered it from Madagascar.



Homebrewed medicines

Whitehead commended the Malagasy government for going ahead with its remedy, adding that homebrewed medicines are too often discounted. During a recent talk show, Whitehead said he is glad Nigeria placed an order for the drink.

“Madagascar today says it has a solution, but because it has not been tested by a certain institution, they decried it. “It again points to the issue that what we invent, unless somebody who was previously our master says it is good enough, we do not think it is good enough for ourselves.

“We do have the capacity to test it, but we have not gone to ask how far Madagascar has gone to test it. And this is where the lack of solidarity is,” he said.



South African support

Last month, South African health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that his government will assist authorities in Madagascar to test and analyse its herbal treatment for the coronavirus.

“I actually did get a call from the government of Madagascar, they would like to be assisted in the process of trying to validate, to investigate the scientific basis on which such a drug could be used,” he said.

Moreover, the African Union issued a statement saying they are in discussion with Madagascar to obtain technical data regarding the safety and efficiency of the remedy.



Scientific testing underway

International media reported that the Artemisia plant is now also being tested by German and Danish scientists of Germany's Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam. It is one of the first studies in which scientists are investigating the function of these plant substances in connection with Covid-19,” the head of the study, Peter Seeberger, told broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Meanwhile, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said Namibia welcomes any new development against the coronavirus, but added that the efficacy and safety of the product is important.

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