Despite a warning by the World Health Organization (WHO) that there is currently no cure for COVID-19, the president of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, on Monday launched a herbal medicine believed to cure and prevent the virus.
The herbal medicine developed by Malagasy Institute of Applied Research and branded COVID-Organics, contains Artemisia – a plant on the Island used in the fight against malaria.
President Rajoelina said, “all trials and tests have been conducted and its effectiveness in reducing the elimination of symptoms have been proven for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 in Madagascar.”
Since school children in Madagascar returned to school on Wednesday, a presidential decree prior to their resumption stated that COVID-Organics is mandatory for them. The president also shared that the medicine had cured two COVID-19 cases.
“The COVID-Organics will be distributed free of charge to our most vulnerable compatriots and sold at very low prices to others. All profits will be donated to IMRA to finance scientific research,” the president wrote on Twitter.
“I’m convinced that, in fact, history will prove us, but today there are already two cases that have been cured with the COVID-organics, but we’ll actually see what happens next.”
“COVID Organics will be used in profilaxis, i.e. preventive, but clinical observations have shown a trend towards its effectiveness in curative, other clinical studies are currently underway,” he stressed at the launch.
Citizens rush herbal medication
Citizens of Madagascar on Thursday rushed out in numbers to collect the herbal medicine launched by Mr Rajoelina on Monday.
The AFP news agency showed Madagascans queuing for the medication, taking portions from officials in protective gear.
“The president said this remedy cures and we trust him so we drink it,” one woman who received her dose told the media.
“When I discovered this drink, I hesitated as a parent. I said to myself: ‘How come the sick people don’t drink it, and why do we make students drink it?’ I hesitated a lot,” another citizen quizzed.
In response to the launch of COVID-Organics, WHO told the BBC in a statement that they did not “recommend self-medication with any medicines as prevention or cure for COVID-19.”
WHO had earlier on warned governments not to treat coronavirus patients with medications not scientifically proven to treat the virus.
The President’s Chief of Staff, Rosa Ranoromaro, said that although Mr Rajoelina was aware of WHO’s warnings, “he has a duty to Malagasy people.”
Madagascar has a total of 121 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 59 recoveries, and no death.