Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina has criticized the Western countries’ skeptical attitude towards Covid Organics, a syrup developed by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research to cure coronavirus. The President argues that African scientists should not be underestimated and that the West would react differently if this syrup had been developed by a European country.
Since the official launch of the herbal remedy, a number of African countries such as Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia and Tanzania have imported the drug that is yet to be endorsed by the World Health Organization. The African Union has called for its clinical trials.
In a continent that carries a bigger portion of the world’s disease burden, responsible leadership calls for a sober verification of cure claims. Cases abound in Africa where terminally ill individuals are subjected to exploitation by religious and traditional healers.Cashing on their desperation, these opportunists extort huge fortunes from them and direct them to “special” clinics for screening, where they are declared disease-free.
Rajoelina should thus reveal his herbs, outline their active ingredients, explicate his methodology and allow independent international scrutiny that respects his intellectual property rights. It is estimated that developing a new drug and bringing it to the market costs over $350 million and the process may take 10 years. If Rajoelina has discovered a shortcut that is relatively cheap, and is proven to work, he should go ahead and commercialize it.
Above all, synergy is needed between African herbalists and the conventional drug manufacturers to spur the manufacture of effective and affordable drugs. Rajoelina’s attempt is perhaps a far cry that African scientists need to be empowered to be part of the global drug solution.