By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, July 22, 2020 The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) are collaborating to enhance research and development of traditional medicines for COVID-19 in Africa.
WHO Regional Office for Africa in a statement issued from its headquarters in Brazzaville, Congo on Wednesday stated that the organisations had inaugurated a committee to achieve the feat.
The office noted that “the organisations today launched an expert advisory committee/panel to provide independent scientific advice and support to countries on the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine therapies.
“The 25-member Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 will support countries in collaborative efforts to conduct clinical trials of traditional medicines in compliance with international standards.
“They will pool expertise within the continent, the Regional Expert Committee will also accelerate the pace and elevate the standards of research, particularly clinical research on new therapies from traditional medicines against COVID-19.
“WHO recognises that traditional, complementary and alternative medicines have many benefits and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations.”
The statement quoted Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, as saying: “interest in traditional medicine as potential remedy for COVID-19 is growing in Africa.
“As the world races to find treatment and vaccines against the virus, research into traditional and orthodox medicines as potential COVID-19 therapy must be grounded in science.
“Today marks an important step in supporting these endeavours.”
The statement also quoted Dr John Nkengasong, the Director of Africa CDC and WHO Special Envoy on COVID-19, as saying that “commendable efforts are ongoing on the continent to find COVID-19 therapies in traditional medicine.
“Rigorous clinical testing to evaluate safety and efficacy will be critical, similar to other areas of medicine.”
Members of the Regional Expert Committee are mainly from research institutions, national regulatory authorities, traditional medicine programmes, public health departments, the academia, medical pharmacy professions and civil society organisations of Member States.
Their expertise covers various areas such as traditional medicine research and development, laboratory and pre-clinical research; clinical research; regulation of medical products; research ethics; public health and community empowerment; leadership and governance; laboratory strengthening and infectious disease.
The Regional Expert Committee will start work immediately toward developing a master protocol to guide countries on clinical trials for COVID-19 drugd and setting the agenda to support Member States.