The President of Madagascar created headlines recently when he announced on his facebook page and on national tv that he had uncovered a potential cure to COVID-19.
President Rajoelina had been referring to a cocktail of medicinal plants, primarily artemisia and ranvensara. Madagascar is said to have the world’s largest supply of artemisia, a medicinal plant with antimalarial properties.
It should be noted that he’s not the first President to be promoting the use of medicines as therapy to treat COVID-19. President Trump in his daily press briefings was extolling the virtues of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, following some encouraging signs from a clinic in Marseille, France.
Chloroquine has been used as an anti-malarial for years and Dr Raoult, a distinguished French professor who spent part of his childhood in Senegal, noted interesting correlations between patients who had managed to overcome COVID-19 and the use of chloroquine.
However no proper clinical trials have yet been conducted to validate this claim. And on Tuesday, a study conducted in a veteran’s clinic in the US showed that the death ratio of patients who had been given chloroquine was actually higher than those who had not been administered the drug.
In Brazil, doctors stopped a study after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested
In an article by Jeune Afrique, it is said that a French-based humanitarian organisation, La Maison de l’Artemisia, had written to a number of African presidents highlighting the potential benefits of artemisia in helping treat Covid19. This letter somehow made it to the President and caught his attention.
It is too early to say whether the Rajoeilina’s hunch is right. Clinical trials and scientific studies in Africa and around the world are currently being conducted to verify the effectiveness of this treatment.
Whether it works or not, Rajoelina has started to ease lockdown measures. The country has reported less than 100 cases and no deaths to date