Healers laud trust in indigenous medicine
Johannesburg – The African National Healers Association (ANHA) has congratulated Madagascar for trusting its indigenous medicine in fighting the corona virus.
The association said it is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) study of the Madagascar tonic called Covid-Organics.
The healers said the herb, Artemisia, known as lengana in seSotho and seTswana or umhlonyane in isiZulu, is one of the most trusted and safest remedies for respiratory infections, even for babies.
Last week Africa CDC said it is studying the scientific data and efficacy of Covid-Organics.
ANHA’s Zukiswa Mvoko said the association is paying close attention to the study.
“When this thing started most of us in South Africa did mention umhlonyane. A month later Madagascar is all over the news and this was never taken into consideration by our own government,” she said.
Sangoma Nthuseng Makhelemele said lengana is one of her most trusted medicines.
“When you or your baby has a cold and you drink lengana you recover. I have never heard of it being unsafe; even pregnant mothers can drink it. In all these years no one has died from lengana in my care,” she said.
ANHA added that South Africa would have to listen to its own healers if the tonic is approved.
Meanwhile Madagascar is putting its Covid-Organics on sale and several African countries have put orders for purchase, despite warnings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that its efficacy is unproven.
Last month Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina launched the remedy at a news conference, which he said had already cured two people.
On Friday a Tanzanian delegation arrived in Madagascar to collect their consignment.
The tonic has not undergone any internationally recognised scientific testing. The World Health Organisation cautioned that it needs to be tested for efficacy and side effects.
Madagascar has been giving away thousands of bottles of the Covid-19 Organics, developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research.
Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, and Guinea Bissau have already received thousands of doses of Covid-19 Organics for free.
The director of Legal Studies at the Madagascan Presidency Marie Sahondrarimalala said: “Madagascar has already received orders from state authorities in other countries, but also from private individuals.”
Heads of other African countries said they were placing orders.
Isolated compounds extracted from Artemisia are effective in malaria drugs, the WHO noted, but the plant itself cannot treat malaria.
WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said she was concerned people who drank the product might feel they were immune to Covid-19 and engage in risky behaviour.
“We are concerned that touting this product as a preventive measure might make people feel safe,” she said.
Guinea Bissau has received over 16 000 doses which it is distributing to the 14 other West African nations.
Liberia’s deputy Information Minister Eugene Farghon said there was no plan to test the remedy before distribution.
“It will be used by Liberians and will be used on Liberians. Madagascar is an African country, therefore we will proceed as an African nation and will continue to use our African herbs,” he said.
By last Thursday Madagascar had 225 confirmed coronavirus cases, 98 recoveries, and no deaths.
Last Monday the African Union (AU) said it is trying to get Madagascar’s technical data on the remedy, and would pass that to the Africa CDC for evaluation.
“This review will be based on global technical and ethical norms to garner the necessary scientific evidence,” the AU said.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has said South Africa will help Madagascar to scientifically test the herbal remedy.
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