Our views on Madagascar Covid-Organics are borne out of great caution.
We believe this should be the case for any new medical product.
Madagascar Covid-Organics is a herbal remedy launched by Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina in April 2020.
It is a medical product of the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research.
President Rajoelina claimed it could prevent and cure the Covid-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2.
The herbal remedy is a product of Artemisia (a plant with proven efficacy against malaria) and other indigenous herbs.
Consequently, from the Malagasy, it is in distribution to all residents of the country.
It was also being exported to a number of African countries.
Considering the devastating impact Covid-19 has had, the world is desperate, even, for a solution to the global pandemic.
While we are enthusiastic about the development of any new medicines for Covid-19, we also like to question their effectiveness.
If they are for just a profit-motive rather than for health and social impact, our concern is that their justification may be misleading.
This is common with Big Pharma.
And brings us to the issues of data and evidence.
Why We Bother With Scientific Process.
Above all, people's health and livelihood are at stake when promoting new health care products.
Even when a new drug or an 'alternative therapy' (we don't particularly like this description) is effective, it is good to know more.
Firstly, at what dosage can we use it?
And then - what are other conditions for its use?
It is also good to know whether the drug is safe or has any side effects.
All this takes a properly designed study; and time to determine these parameters.
In addition - how would the findings apply to the general population or to a subgroup of people in a country?
How a Clinical Trial would Help Madagascar Covid-Organics
Therefore, after the discovery of a 'candidate agent' such as Madagascar Covid-Organics, it is better to commission a 'clinical trial' or study on the agent.
This allows us to apply the scientific process to find these answers.
The country's regulatory provisions will guide this - if they meet international standards.
We believe global politics in the worldwide health care industry hold Africa to disadvantage.
But, Africa's response should not be to jump the scientific process.
And it should not to condemn itself to always waiting for help to come from the West.
Creativity exists Worldwide
As it were, many believe anything from Africa is inferior.
Certainly we reject that claim.
Do all humans not have the capacity for similar skills and abilities?
Shouldn't the same scientific process used in the West for new discoveries be the same for Africa?
And this is true, for, Africans demonstrate the same intellectual and creative abilities as their peers in the West when given the opportunity.
The Opportunity is here
So, what is the problem?
It is all about control of global markets, of which over 1.3 billion Africans are a part.
The opportunity in the face of the unfair global system is this:
For African countries to have their own strategies for appraising new medical technology.
That is, Africa based techniques that apply the scientific process.
This will mean the creation of a buffer zone between African scientists and WHO (World Health Organisation).
Instead of claims of cure, Madagascar Covid Organics should be considered as a potential candidate and subjected to well designed clinical trials.
These trials would be performed by Pan-African institutions.
They would be checked for verification of claims on safety, efficacy, and side effects.
Consequently, this should not be difficult if it is the responsibility of an African independent institution working collaboratively with WHO.
If Madagascar Covid-Organics works?
Africa cheapens and undermines its own position and credibility by using expressions like 'homegrown' for its medical discoveries.
However, if we fail to subject our discoveries to rigour, the same happens - relying only on practices handed down through generations.
We should realise that all cultures started traditionally but the age of enlightenment brought in the scientific process.
This helps to find the truth about claims to generalise the drug's use across the world.
After scientific data shows it is effective and safe, then the medicine can be generalised for use worldwide.
Then they can earn acclaim and income for African countries.
This is the responsibility of leaders in Africa.
We are all on the same side for the success that we want for Madagascar Covid-Organics.
It is how we arrive at that destination that should drive discussions and next steps.