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Herbalists swamp Kemri with coronavirus 'cures'

By Gatonye Gathura | May 7th 2020

People buy a herbal extract believed to 'çure' Covid-19 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. [Photo, AP]

Local herbalists have demanded a chance to demonstrate their ability to treat Covid-19 patients.

The Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) says it has been swamped with requests from local herbalists and traditional healers claiming to have cures for the disease.

Some healers, Kemri says, have even requested laboratory space at the institute to demonstrate the efficacy of their concoctions. 

“Much as this is a good gesture and an effort to provide a solution to the problem, Kemri requests that in the meantime, such persons remain calm,” says Dr Festus Tolo, deputy director at Kemri in charge of research in natural products.

Dr Tolo, in a statement, maintains so far there is no herbal or traditional medicine that has been confirmed able to treat Covid 19. 

He cautioned the healers to follow instructions and directives as prescribed by the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 management while researchers continue to study the new virus.

Dr Tolo said despite media reports on the use of herbal and traditional products to treat Covid-19 in other parts of the world, there is no scientific evidence to prove their efficacy so far.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also released a similar cautionary statement on the use of herbal and traditional medicines in regard to the disease.

International standards

The WHO Regional Office for Africa cautioned against the use of medicines not approved in line with international standards.

WHO says, without specifics, that it is working with research institutions to select traditional medicine products which can be investigated for clinical efficacy and safety for Covid-19 treatment. 

But the WHO response seems to contradict Kenya’s Health Act, 2017, which directed the formation a body to regulate the practice of alternative medicine in Kenya.

The body, which has never been formed, was to, among others, set the minimum standards of practice for traditional and alternative medicine. 

The Health Act envisages herbal products on the lines of the now popular traditional Chinese medicine which received WHO approval last year.

WHO, in the new statement, was mainly reacting to the herbal potion, Covid Organics (CVO), being promoted by Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina for the treatment of Covid-19

WHO says the use of products to treat Covid-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security.

Covid 19 Time Series


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