EXPERTS OPINIONS AND ANALYSTS, on the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, currently plaguing humanity and economies, globally, have been revealing, as well as conflicting. The world medical scientists and researchers, presently, trail in efforts at developing vaccine or drugs to combat the disease. Further emerging views about Covid-19, suggest, that the world is still uncertain, in confusion or darkness, about Covid-19, the management and treatment of the disease.
Analysts and commentators have described the global approach, management and treatment of patients infected by the coronavirus, as “copy and paste”, by countries affected by the pandemic. Observers, said the methods, presently, adopted in handling cases of coronavirus are opaque and clouded in guess work, since no vaccine or drugs for the treatment is yet available.
Donald Trump, US President, touted Chloroquine drug as treatment for Covid-19 patients in his country. His claim stirred controversy. Threw medical experts and researchers into the storm of claims and counter-claims about the efficacy of Chloroquine drug for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. The Chloroquine debate, further threw up troubling questions. Whether coronavirus is seasonal? Will it ease out soon? Has it come to stay? How is the virus spread? What drugs are suitable and presently used for the treatments? And many more questions.
What echoes from experts’ views, opinions and concerns on the coronavirus dilemma, is that novel strategic approach need be adopted to tackle the novel coronavirus, rather than global “copy and paste” approach. Imported approach in dealing with the pandemic, that may not be consistent with Regional and Environmental differences and factors in countries and continents of the world, could amount to blindly dealing with the situation.
In Africa, and in Nigeria, for instance, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, shortness of breath, among others, are known symptoms associated with malarial fever, typhoid and other environmental illnesses. Malarial fever with these associated symptoms, annually, kills hundreds of thousands of people in Africa – including children and pregnant women, according to the World Health Organisation, WHO.
When patients with these symptoms, in Nigeria – coughing, sneezing, sore throat, shortness of breath, among others – visit Hospitals or Clinics, physicians clinically examine the patients, carry out tests, and treat them of malarial, typhoid or other environmental illnesses. The symptoms disappear, and patients get well and return to normal life. In severe cases, the patients are admitted, and few days later, recover and discharged. Of course, deaths occur in some cases.
With the emergence of Covid-19, clinical examination of patients seemed to have disappeared. Recovered and discharged patients of Covid-19, in Nigeria – both the highly placed citizens and others – have given conflicting accounts of their experiences and treatments they received in the Treatment Centres. The common and similar experiences they shared were that malarial fever is the core treatment they received, combined with antibiotics and immune boosting drugs. And they got well and discharged.
Some patients claimed that they did not manifest, any or serious Covid-19 symptoms – coughing, sneezing, sore throat, shortness of breath, among others – when they were confirmed positive to coronavirus, and taken to Treatment Centres. Experts have questioned if someone could be said to be sick or infected with virus without manifesting symptoms. What would such persons be treated for? What determines the drugs to be administered to patients without symptoms of any known illness? Many more questions.
Experts and analysts have said that this is not to say that Covid-19 is not real. But they queried the high level of guise work, “copy and paste” approach, and the global confusion embodied in the management and treatment of patients diagnosed and confirmed infected by coronavirus. That there is the need to “think out of the box” – primarily, giving attention to local and environmental solutions in countries faced with the Covid-19.
MADAGASCAR’S HERBAL REMEDY, COVID-Organics, researched, developed and launched by the government of that country, for the treatment of its citizens infected by coronavirus, becomes a unique approach, of a country “thinking out of the box” for local solution to Covid-19. The leadership of that country did not wait, looking up to the West, Asia and WHO for coronavirus cure. Madagascar’s COVID-Organics herbal solution evolved from novel local strategic thinking. A skilled, resourceful and resounding professional feat! And a clear example of an African country – a small Indian Ocean Island of about 20 million population – defining its potentials to the world. Will other African countries follow suit? Africa needs to redefine its potentials.
Andry Rajoelina, President of Madagascar, and his team of researchers, at Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, IMRA, took the bull by the horn, swung into action and produced home grown novel local COVID-Organics, for the treatment and cure of the novel coronavirus. An infusion derived from Artemisia plan with proven anti-malarial properties, combined with other indigenous herbs.
Madagascar’s innovative COVID-Organics solution, presently, place the country on the world map. To the amazement of the international community, including the World Health Organisation, WHO, President Rajoelina, at the public launch of the products, openly drank of it and proclaimed it safe for consumption and treatment of Covid-19.
“Tests have been carried out – two people have now been cured by this treatment. This herbal tea gives results in seven days”, President Rajoelina, radiating confidence at the product launch, told ministers, diplomats and journalists.
“I will be the first to drink this today, in front of you, to show you that this product cures and does not kill. All trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms have been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar”, he added.
In the euphoria of making history, President Rajoelina distributed the product widely in his small, Indian Ocean Island. He embarked on exporting COVID-Organics to other African countries, in the spirit of African Brotherhood. Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Niger Republic, Comoros, including Nigeria are known recipients of the products, in Africa.
IN TWIST OF EVENTS, local and international detractors emerged – those who see nothing good coming from Africa, or the black race, came on stage. In an unconcealed condemnation, without acknowledgement and commendation on the efforts by Madagascar’s government in producing the herbal remedy; they dismissed President Rajoelina’s claim of the efficacy of COVID-Organics solution as cure for the coronavirus, as mere charade.
Organisations and individuals took turns to make disparaging remarks about Madagascar’s COVID-Organics. The product met cool reception in the West. World Health Organisation, WHO, issued stern remarks on the herbal solution. WHO advised national governments to be weary of COVID-Organics, touted by President Andry Rajoelina as cure to the coronavirus. Some referred to COVID-Organics, as concoction – a disparaging way to described “local brew”, and gives it the colouration of “unhealthy drink”.
WHO Africa Director, Matshidiso Moeti, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in a press briefing said: “We would caution and advise countries against adopting a product that has not been taken through tests to see its efficacy”. He called on Madagascar to take the drink “through a clinical trial”. WHO, warned that there are no published scientific studies of the herbal tea and its effects have not been tested.
Undaunted, Madagascar’s President Rajoelina and his shrewd government officials, and researchers at Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, IMRA, that produced the herbal tea, consistently, stood their ground, that COVID-Organics, derived from artemisia – a plant proven to have anti-malaria properties, combined with other indigenous herbs cures COVID-19 patients within seven and10 days.
Nigerian government exhibited cautious optimism in handling the issue of Madagascar’s COVID-Organics. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to Nigerian government, and Chairman, President Task Force on COVID-19, during routine press briefing, indicated Nigeria’s interest in the herbal remedy.
But insisted that President Buhari directed that the herbal remedy from Madagascar must be subjected to clinical trial to ensue it is safe for consumption without adverse side effect. Nigeria received its share of COVID-Organics from the government of Madagascar. Reports making the rounds, said Nigeria’s share of Madagascar’s COVID-Organics is on the shelve, yet to be sent to NAFDAC for clinical trials, as promised by President Buhari.
NIGERIAN, OVER THE YEARS, variously described as sleeping giant, due to gross national neglects and under-development in almost all sectors of the economy – education, healthcare, science and technology, agriculture, among others – despite huge oil wealth, may be waking up from sleep, to the reality of the coronavirus pandemic’s ravaging effects on global human lives and economies.
President Buhari, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, has approved funding of six medical simulation, research and training facilities in six colleges of medicine in the country. It involves setting up molecular science laboratories with capacity for testing and diagnostics of Covid-19, Lassa Fever and related viral diseases.
Education Minister, Adamu Adamu, directed the Executive Secretary, TETFund, Suleiman Bagoro, to designate a university, each in the country’s six geo-political zones for the project. It will be followed by the establishment of 12 medical centres of excellence to be hosted by first, second and third general universities.
Separate statements, on behalf of Minister of Education, in Abuja, by Ngoba Priye Briggs, Director, Public Affairs; and Buhari Mikailu, Director, Physical Infrastructure Development, TETFund, said additional centres of excellence would be sited in state universities, polytechnics and colleges of education, subsequently.
Adamu said: “The focus areas of the centres of excellence, in line with contemporary practice and technologies, are mainly in science-based disciplines.” And “ongoing research work in response to Covid-19, and similar diseases through the TETFund, National Research Fund, NRF, the research community of the Education Ministry should undertake any other sundry contributions in support of the Presidential Task Force, PTC, in responding to the threat of Covid-19”, in the country.
Neglect of Nigeria’s healthcare sector, absurdly, manifested with the emergence of Covid-19 in the country. Concerned stakeholders in the sector – including the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, National Association of Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners, NANTMP, Pex Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories, took a swipe at the country leadership on the decision to import Madagascar’s COVID-Organics.
They descried the action as “shameful and distasteful act”, and expressed disappointment in what they said is government’s insensitivity to the call by Nigerians for the use of local herbs in the country for the treatment of covid-19 patients. Nigeria, they said, has some of the best scientists in the pharmaceutical, medical, biochemical, biological, among others, in the world who have proven works on natural and herbal medicine.
Sam Ohuabunwa, President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, press statement, said the Society received the news with utter disbelief, because the nation is greater than Madagascar in all ramifications, with about 174 universities – 43 federal, 52 state, and 79 private universities; 20 faculties of Pharmacy, and about 69 federal-funded research institutes – including National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research & Development, and National Institute for Medical Research. While Madagascar has only 6 universities, 1 faculty of Pharmacy and 9 research centres!
Ohuabunwa said Nigeria has developed pharmacopeia of natural and herbal products. Has one of the richest flora and fauna – potent sources of phytomedicines. “Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, a number of them have raised their voices that they have herbal and natural products that can be used to treat or manage COVID-19. Some have patents. Many herbal companies and producers have announced specifically that they have herbal formulations that can do what this ‘invention’ from Madagascar can do.
“We have raised our voices severally that the federal government should review these claims and help put them through clinical evaluation as most of these producers cannot afford to conduct clinical trials. We have recommended that a portion of the nearly 25 Billion Naira donated/allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic should be dedicated for local research and development. But our government has remained essentially silent only waiting to participate in WHO sponsored or mandated trials. We have been told that Nigeria is participating in the WHO solidarity trial, but nothing on trying our own inventions and formulations.
“Now we want to import COVID Organics from Madagascar to try? Why are we like this? If the world can supply us synthetic and chemically-sophisticated medicines which we apparently lack the technology to produce, why must we wait for the world to supply us herbal formulations which we can easily make and which we have similar products”, Ohuabunwa said.
AFRICA’S ALTERNATIVE traditional medicines, unquestionably, have decades history of efficacy, and effectively treat various diseases peculiar to countries in the content.
Why the continent has not taken advantage of its endowed natural resources and full potentials, and build its healthcare system, economy, science and technology, education, agriculture, among others, is of grave concern and disturbs right thinking persons.