Madagascar’s president, Rajoelina claims that the island nation has found a cure for Covid-19. He launched the tonic last month, claiming it had cured several people and so far urged his fellow African heads of state to embrace the herbal remedy.
This is despite warnings from the World Health Organisation that its efficacy is unproven. The proposed cure, called Covid-Organics is the latest formulation from the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research in Madagascar.
The plant’s active compound artemisinin is a recognised antimalarial treatment. However, the WHO condemns the use of it for COVID-19 as it could accelerate the resistance to treatment in active cases- stating that there is no basis to claim it as an effective treatment.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize stated that South Africa will help Madagascar to scientifically test the herbal remedy. Researchers in South Africa are keen to get their hands on the Malagasy artemisia tonic, although questions remain about the contents of the alleged treatment.
Other African countries such as Tanzania and Guinea-Bissau have made plans to import the tonic. It is believed that Madagascar would now begin selling the remedy, which domestically can be bought for around 40 U.S. cents per bottle.
Yesterday, Madagascar reported its first Covid-19-related death, a 57-year-old medical worker who suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. The death doesn’t put any less doubt in the rising questions about Covid-Organic’s efficiency.
WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said she was concerned people who drank the product might feel they are immune to COVID-19 and engage in risky behaviour.
By Naseerah Nanabhai