The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19, it said in a press release yesterday.
It added: “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. 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.”
African governments through their ministers of health adopted a resolution urging member states to produce evidence on the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine at the 50th session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in 2000.
Countries also agreed to undertake relevant research and require national medicines regulatory agencies to approve medicines in line with international standards, which include the product following a strict research protocol and undergoing tests and clinical trials. These studies normally involve hundreds of people under the monitoring of the national regulatory authorities and may take quite a few months in an expedited process.