“Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world. Even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical.” In a statement issued by the World health Organization (WHO), it also said it “welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19.”
The WHO, “recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations. Medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua are being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19 and should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects.”
The WHO is working with research institutions “to select traditional medicine products which can be investigated for clinical efficacy and safety for COVID-19 treatment”.
“As efforts are under way to find treatment for COVID-19,” it continues, “caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy. The use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety.”
The report goes on to say, “Over the past two decades, WHO has been working with countries to ensure safe and effective traditional medicine development in Africa by providing financial resources and technical support. WHO has supported clinical trials, leading 14 countries to issue marketing authorization for 89 traditional medicine products which have met international and national requirements for registration. Of these, 43 have been included in national essential medicines lists. These products are now part of the arsenal to treat patients with a wide range of diseases including malaria, opportunistic infections related to HIV, diabetes, sickle cell disease and hypertension.
Almost all countries in the WHO African region have national traditional medicine policies.