Madagascar's president promoted the product as not only a remedy, but also as a preventive drink appropriate for school children.
Rabat – Following the announcement of a new herbal medicine in Madagascar that “cures” COVID-19, several African leaders intervened to import the drink, including the president of Tanzania, John Magufuli, and Congo-Brazzaville President Denis Sassou Nguesso.
Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo personally welcomed the plane carrying the first batch of the purported cure.
The ingredients, extracted from the “Artemisia annua” plant–which is also used as a traditional medicine for malaria treatment–and from other traditional medicine plants, was commercially promoted as “COVID-Organics” and was tested on fewer than 20 people over a period of three weeks, a Malagasy official told the BBC.
The supposed cure has seen widespread approval in the African island country after Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina declared that the treatment cured two people.
“This herbal tea gives results in seven days,” said the president. Rajoelina promoted the product as not only a remedy, but also as a preventive drink that should be given to school children.
In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) has dismissed the president’s claim that the herbal product can cure patients of COVID-19.
WHO said in a statement sent to the BBC that the global organization did not recommend “self-medication with any medicines […] as a prevention or cure for Covid-19.”
The natural ingredient has not yet been submitted to any kind of scientific testing.
However, the organization acknowledged the benefits of traditional medicine as complementary and alternative treatments.
“WHO welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19,” the organization wrote yesterday.
Still, WHO considers the Artemisia annua plant as a “possible treatment” for COVID-19, but stressed that it needs to be tested for efficacy, for “Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world.”
Throughout WHO’s efforts in developing the officially-sanctioned use of traditional medicine in Africa, it has supported clinical trials, leading 14 countries to issue 89 licenses for traditional medicine products.
“Of these, 43 have been included in national essential medicines lists,” WHO emphasized.