The controversy surrounding Madagascan COVID-19 cure is throwing Nigerians and other Africans into a frenzy. Some stood against it while some are die-hard fans of the medicinal drink. Those that have their reservations are viciously attacked by its fans. Medical practitioners and scientists have called attention to the fact that Madagascar has not published any clinical trial data on the drug. They also revealed that the drug has not passed through any peer review and third party verification and approval. However, their observations are discredited by many Africans, who claimed that these medical practitioners and scientists only wanted to save their jobs. The advocates of this drug also claimed that the medical practitioners and scientists condemn it because it is made in Africa. They refused to listen to reason.
The drama surrounding this cure started when the Madagascan President, Andry Rajoelina, claimed that WHO’s hesitation to declare the drug, branded COVID-Organics, as a potent cure for COVID-19 is because Madagascar is an African country and the 60th in world poverty ranking. He claimed that 55 Madagascan COVID-19 patients were treated with the herbal drink and they have all been cured. He also explained that COVID-Organics was developed by a research institute known as Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, but he failed to answer the questions surrounding clinical trials and tests.
The accusations by the Madagascan president is unfounded because WHO has not approved any reported newly developed drugs for COVID-19 and should, therefore, not jump in to approve those whose contents, indications, contra-indications, effects and adverse effects are not known. But this accusation played both political and economic role for the country. By playing the victim, the country has turned the world’s attention towards her and has used the campaign to offer to the world that which it craved for – cure and prevention of COVID-19. Many African countries have purchased the medicine for the treatment of their COVID-19 patients. Even Nigeria has joined the bandwagon of buyers though Lauretta Onoochie, the Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, revealed in her Twitter page that the consignment Nigeria is flying to Madagascar to pick is “a gift” from the generous country.
As we wait for verification, approval and confirmation from the countries that purchased this Madagascan COVID-19 cure (which should be out within the next ten days according to Rajoelina), let us turn to our numerous agbo sellers, agbo makers and herbal drug mixers and ask them, “HOW FAR?”
There is no market in this country that doesn’t have megaphones mounted in strategic places for herbal drug sellers. These people continue to remind us that we have everything it takes to heal diseases embedded in plants and that we should stop patronising “chemical drugs”. They also discourage people from going to hospitals because doctors make sickness worse, or that they treat symptoms without treating the sickness. Don’t get me wrong, I know that herbal drugs work, at least I used Dogonyaro to treat malaria during my service year in Zamfara because I noticed that most of the drugs sold in Kaura Namoda were uncertified by NAFDAC. My point here is that these people need to come out to prove their worth.
When COVID-19 started its ravage in the country, some herbal healers came out to claim that they have the cure for the disease and invited the people and the government to send patients to them. Even some religious “healers” made their own claims too. The herbalists’ claims were not tested as the government did not send patients to them nor take them to patients. Of course, even if they healed any private individual, they wouldn’t come out to say so because they may be arrested. But with the discovery and the release of COVID-Organics, the herbalists have their opportunities to show their skills.
Concerning Nigerian herbalists being given the opportunity to also show their skills, BBC Pidgin reported that the DG of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, invited interested traditional medical practitioners on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 to submit their applications and drugs for clinical trials. She said that Nigerian traditional medical practitioners and academics only claim the potency of their drugs on social media and other media outlets without approaching NAFDAC for testing and approval. She revealed that of all the people claiming expertise on treating COVID-19 only one person has submitted an application. She, however, noted that the individual that submitted the application wishes to treat the symptoms of COVID-19 and not to cure the disease.
So here is an open door, and window, for all the owners of the megaphones blaring away in our markets. They need to hear about this opportunity and make use of it. All they need to do is conduct research, which they have obviously been doing before, and then bring up a cure just like Madagascar did. Nigeria too has herbs and roots that can cure everything.