A 25-member regional expert committee has been launched to assist African countries with research into the safety and usefulness of traditional medicine in the fight against Covid-19. The committee was launched this week through a partnership of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
In a statement, WHO regional director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, says there is a growing interest in traditional medicine in the fight against Covid-19. WHO says it is going to look at how traditional medicines can be used to develop treatments and therapies to fight
“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,” says Moeti.
By bringing together experts from different parts of the continent, the committee will increase the speed and standards of research, especially clinical research on new therapies from traditional medicines against Covid-19.
WHO recognises that African traditional medicine has many benefits and the continent has a rich history of medicine and practitioners who have been caring for its populations for years. Director of Africa CDC, and WHO special envoy on Covid-19, Dr John Nkengasong, says the continent is a prominent player in finding treatments for the virus.
“Commendable efforts are ongoing on the continent to find Covid-19 therapies in traditional medicine. Rigorous clinical testing to evaluate safety and efficacy will be critical, similar to other areas of medicine,” says Nkengasong in a statement.
Harmony between healing and medical community
According to the South African Traditional Medicines Research Group (SATMERG), an estimated 70% of South Africans regularly use traditional medicines, most of which are derived from plant species that are indigenous to the region.
Meanwhile, the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has invested R15–million into research of indigenous plants that may alleviate, or cure, respiratory illness symptoms.
President of the Dingaka Association of North West, Annah Rabotapi, tells Health-e News that traditional practitioners were previously excluded from taking part in the fight against the pandemic.
“There is nobody coming to us and asking how we as traditional healers can help to fight this pandemic. It is important that traditional healers from all provinces are consulted so that we can give our input. Traditional medicine should not be undermined because it has been used for centuries to heal all forms of ailments,” Rabotapi says.
“Modern science alone cannot be taken as the only method to fight the pandemic. All sections of the medical society should be brought in so that we can save our nation.” – Health-e News