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WHO says medicinal plants like Artemisia annua being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19

The World Health Organization said Monday that 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. 

The WHO welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19, an article on the organizations website read. 

“WHO welcomes every opportunity to collaborate with countries and researchers to develop new therapies and encourages such collaboration for the development of effective and safe therapies for Africa and the world. 

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.”

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has been promoting a herbal cure for the coronavirus – COVID-Organics since last April. 

The improved traditional remedy which he says is both curative and preventive by researchers from the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, (IMRA), Antananarivo is currently being used in his country and some other African nations. 

The improved traditional remedy is composed of Artemisia annua and other Malagasy medicinal plants. 

The WHO says 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.

Over the past two decades, WHO has been working with countries to ensure safe and effective traditional medicine development in Africa by providing financial resources and technical support. 

WHO however cautioned that “as efforts are under way to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.” 

“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 and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety.”

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