Immediate former President of Uganda Medical Association, Dr Ekwaro Obuku, wants government to import Madagascar’s Covid-19 cure for testing purposes.
Speaking to journalists, Dr Obuku said it is not wrong for Uganda to get the Covid Organics – a herbal concoction that Madagascan President, Mr Andry Rajoelina, said is produced from Artemisia annua plant that has properties used to cure malaria.
The president launched the herbal remedy at Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (IMRA) last month.
However, Dr Obuku said the herbal remedy should be brought into the country for scientific testing to see if it is suitable for human consumption.
“What can be done for now is to import this medicine and subject it to test at the National Drug Authority and see whether it is fit for human consumption. Some of the intervention should not necessarily be to kill the virus but to improve the immune system and if it has that effect, the better.”
“When pandemics occur, they cause pandemonium characterised by panic, anxiety, stress, stigma and sometimes depression. People are desperate. When there is no cure, desperate times cause desperate measures. When little was known about HIV, people were even eating soil,” he explained.
The doctor said that the claim that Covid Organics cures the virus should be verified using scientific methods which are free from bias.
“The scientific method should have a large sample size and there should be a comparison group-meaning, you check and compare it unlike for the case of Madagascar so far. The trials are done to check safety of the drug but also determine whether it is effective and then define the dose. This at least takes 18 months. But it was not done in the case of Covid Organics. It is based on low quality evidence. The high quality evidence should have been a randomised controlled trial,” the medic explained.
Dr Obuku called upon African governments to encourage researchers and innovators and also to promote their technologies instead of suppressing them.
The medic said Africa in known for having researchers and innovators citing Bunyoro –Kitara Kingdom which was the place in the world to perform Caesarean delivery in the 1800s.
“Let me take you back to history. There is a Scottish man called Felkin who came here in the late 1800 AD. When he reached Kahoora in western Uganda, he found that Africans performed Caesarean delivery or C –section (a surgical procedure used to deliver a baby through incisions in the abdomen and uterus) using crude methods. They would use a knife put in fire to open the abdomen and uterus of the woman. Once the baby is out, they would close using sterilised iron pins and they clean using banana wine and the mother and baby would survive.”
“So, it is important to acknowledge that African indigenous technology exists. What needs to be done is to promote it. The promotion can be done by linking the scientists to already established organisations, fund them as well as procuring the technological equipment for them to develop new drugs and the human capital to develop their ideas,” he added.
He said China developed in the manufacturing sector including hi-tech materials because it sent its human capital to Europe and the US for advancement in their technology.
Also, the current Uganda Medical Association Secretary General, Dr Muhereza Mukuzi, said before Uganda can start using Covid Organics, it should know how it works and the reasons for its production. He said if it is a supplement, doctors can know and prescribe it to patients.
Madagascar has 193 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with 101 recoveries and no deaths registered.