Namibia is cautioning its citizens to dismiss claims making rounds on social media that elephant dung is capable of curing the novel coronavirus as the country sees a surge in infections.
“We have seen on social media people selling elephant dung at exorbitant prices. There is a whole hype around it,” Romeo Muyunda, a spokesman for Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism told Reuters.
Some of the country’s traditional healers are convincing an increasing number of people that elephant waste has inherent curative properties for the virus. This is apart from the fact that the belief is already established that elephant dung is potent against sinus problems, toothache and headaches.
With numbers of coronavirus infected Namibians on the rise, the government is taking the issue of misinformation seriously.
Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula is advising that it is incumbent upon Namibians to treat the elephant dung myth “as a false claim”.
Namibia has now recorded nearly 5,000 cases of the coronavirus after initially winning praise for its containment even as many other African countries had seen thousands of infections and hundreds of deaths.
Fighting misinformation to save lives
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the fight against the coronavirus comprises the dissemination of credible and verified information to publics around the world.
In some parts of Africa, trust in certain medications has had serious consequences. Madagascar has witnessed a sharp spike in infections even after President Andry Rajoelina declared that homemade herbal COVID-Organics could cure the virus.
In Nigeria in March, a number of people were hospitalized for what health officials said was chloroquine poisoning after U.S. President Donald Trump boasted that the drug was promising in the fight against COVID-19.