April 30, 2020
#Coronavirus | Malagasy President is Africa's Superstar with a Potential Cure for COVID, More Recoveries, No Deaths

Herbal medicine is a health practice based on the use of plants and plant extracts. Herbs and plants are the main forms of life on earth. There are about 350,000 species of existing plants.
Before the introduction of what we know today as “Aspirin”, man was mainly dependent on herbs for medical needs to retain vitality and cure diseases. The early uses of Aspirin are found in Egypt and Greece. According to Diarmuid Jeffreys, author of "Aspirin: The Remarkable Story of a Wonder Drug," the ancient Egyptians used willow bark as a remedy for aches and pains. The old remedy would work in reducing body temperature and inflammation thanks to a key ingredient: the salicylic acid.

It is only thousands of years later that people separated the key ingredients of aspirin. The aspirin we know today was manufactured in the late 1890s, and is universally recognized for heart-attack prevention in men who had history of the condition, and it has also shown to have benefits against stroke in women.

The strong belief in traditional medicine in Africa exists since the beginning of times. Before modern medicine, Africans relied solely on plants and herbs to heal themselves. The heavy practice of spirituality led them to have trust in traditional medicine as a blessing from the gods, ancestors or as the successful expertise of healers or witches.

Today, although modern medicine still relies on herbal practices, there is a great discrimination against herbalism through stereotypes that are heavily intrinsic in African societies and around the world.

The Christianization of the old continent has played a destructive role in forcing the African individual to struggle into a dualism between religion and what is perceived as witchcraft. In fact, the spiritual essence of Africans was ripped away because of the indoctrinations on the difference between good and evil, salvation and obedience.

The use of pejorative terms when talking about herbal medicine also played a key role in the assimilation toward the use of synthetic drugs. In fact, words such as “traditional, alternative, witchcraft, crude, ancient,” define herbal medicine. However, the sophisticated appeal in words like “pharmaceutical, new, modern, advanced, technology, science, medical,” complements today’s medical practices.

It is therefore not surprising that people believe herbal science is pure evil, and herbal healers are really witchdoctors who are serving the devil, even though modern medicine is solely inspired by the successful healing using plants and herbs. An individual seems more convinced by the advice of a medical doctor than that of a healer. And today, some herbal healers are persecuted and discriminated against. The fear of being associated with witchcraft still places a heavy burden on them. It is almost unbelievable that societies that once depended only on herbal remedies are just now working on officializing African traditional medicine.

Not only traditional medicine is rarely recognized for its medical prowess, but western medical industries have been taking advantage of Africans to develop their findings. Since the 1800s, pharmaceutical companies have been experimenting on Africans in large clinical trials, disregarding their human rights. During slavery, bodies of black slaves were also used for repeated invasive and humiliating experiments. Moreover, the robust advertising of western drugs in Africa played a big part in suppressing traditional healing practices. Big pharmaceutical corporations even go as far as sponsoring medical doctors to encourage them in prescribing particular drugs, not to mention that the price of these medications are purposefully high for Low-income African countries. According to a BBC report, “In countries such as Zambia, Senegal and Tunisia, everyday drugs like paracetamol can cost up to 30 times more than in the UK and USA.”

It may therefore not be such a shock that, in such a time of need for the cure for COVID-19, western corporations shy from backing the development of a traditional African remedy that could do just that.

On April 8 2020, Madagascar’s president, Andry Rajoelina, surprised many observers when he announced that there is a plant in the country that could potentially cure Covid-19. The hopefully “preventive and curative” Artemisia-based drink called Covid-Organics, does not hold conclusive tests as of yet. However, it has become a strong indicator of Africa’s potential self-sufficiency and the importance of African medicine.

Following this optimistic step toward fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some doubts. “The scientific evidence that this is effective has not been proved. It's likely that it could actually harm the health of the population, particularly that of children," said the president of Madagascar's Academy of Medicine, Marcel Razanamparany, in a statement.

Abcnews wrote, “With no approved drugs for COVID-19, some people around the world are resorting to unproven therapies, sometimes with the backing of government leaders. Rigorous testing of herbal and other traditional remedies is needed, say experts.”

France24 calls the treatment “controversial”. WHO did not back, nor did they show any willingness to further investigate the drink.

Despite the negativity, President Rajoelina has support from his African counterparts. Senegal has become the first country to make an order for Covid-Organics. Guinea Bissau's President Umaro Embalo has also requested for packs of the Malagasy Coronavirus medicine in mass numbers to share across his country and neighbors in West Africa. Equatorial Guinea's Deputy Minister of Health, Mitoha Ondo'o arrived in Madagascar to take packages of the medicine as well. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi called to congratulate President Rajoelina's country on the find. There  is also a lot of African spectators who are as optimistic that the remedy does cure COVID-19.

It is not the first time that a treatment was said to fight against COVID-19. There has been a global surge in demand for drugs normally used against malaria to tackle the virus. Chloroquine, and a related derivative, hydroxychloroquine, have gained attention, although the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was no definitive evidence they work. However, it has been authorized as preventive and curative treatment by many countries including the U.S.A and France. When it comes to Chloroquine there was no harsh criticism despite its side effects. Experts may say the composition and use of Chloroquine is better understood than COVID-organics. However, it seems more like they are saying they do not trust “African Remedies” or better yet, it won’t be profitable for western corporations if the Malagasy potion is in fact the premier treatment for COVID-19.

Following the whole debacle, President Andry Rajoelina still comes out as a superstar. It takes a lot of courage and passion in these trying times for a president to claim to have the cure for COVID-19. And the twist here is the fact that as of April 30, it is reported that since Madagascar launched Covid-Organics, 82 people have since recovered from coronavirus and no single death has been reported.

And even if COVID-Organics may not in fact cure COVID-19, just as Chloroquine, Artemisia plants have been used to fight against Malaria. It is also evident that natural treatments do not hold as many side effects as synthetic drugs.

Moreover, considering the fact that roughly half the world's population lives on less than $2 per day, it is a win for Africa if COVID-organics is available and affordable. And just in case the Malagasy treatment ultimately does not fight against COVID-19, its other properties will help boost our immunity to be able to fight the virus. And even if that’s not the case, it still would be better than drinking disinfectants. Plus, right now it sounds safer to test COVID-organics than any western manufactured vaccine.

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