Could herbal treatment be the answer to the deadly coronavirus? The government of Zimbabwe believes so. In recent years, the treatments and remedies used in traditional African medicine have gained more appreciation from researchers in science.
In Zimbabwe, the government has authorized herbalists to treat coronavirus patients. However, medical experts have urged the government to stick to WHO guidelines on how to contain the virus.
On Monday, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health delivered a letter to the head of the country’s main COVID-19 treatment centre in Harare, asking him to consider using a herbalist, who claims to have a cure for the virus, according to a VOA report.
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The president of Zimbabwe Traditional Practitioners Association, Tribert Chishanyu, is happy that President Emmerson Mnangagwa‘s government is allowing herbalists to treat coronavirus-positive Zimbabweans.
“Traditional medicine practice is older… than science and it is accepted by the majority of Zimbabweans,” Chishanyu said, adding that, “If modern scientists are given opportunities to try whenever there is an emergency disease (outbreak), why can’t we do the same to traditional medicine practice? We are treating symptoms related to COVID-19, so by (some) chance we may be able to treat COVID-19.”
According to him, traditional practitioners are consulting with “spirit mediums” in hopes of finding new COVID-19 treatments.
On the other hand, Dr Nyika Mahachi, the president of Zimbabwe College of Public Health Physicians, told VOA via WhatsApp that the coronavirus was still evolving and its mortality was fairly high.
“We cannot take a chance with traditional medicine that is not proven,” he added. “Even on the regular medicines that we have, none of them have been proven to be effective in the treatment or cure of COVID-19. So, this is an unwelcome development. I am hoping that this is not a true approval, something went wrong somewhere, and the ministry urgently addresses this.”
While the world struggled to contain the fast-spreading deadly coronavirus, Zimbabwe’s defence minister believes the pandemic is God’s “punishment” on the US and the West for imposing sanctions on members of the ruling regime. At the time, the country was yet to record any case but now, 10 people have tested positive in Zimbabwe, and one person has died.
“Using herbs may derail the gains that came with the nationwide 21-day lockdown,” the Chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, Fortune Nyamande also said.
“We wish to highlight that those who are going to use this approach (herbs) need to be aware of how to use protective personal equipment because they may end up being affected by the virus and they may end up being agents of transmission to the broader communities,” Nyamande said. “By and large, we say this needs to be treated with caution. We also advocate for interventions which are grounded in science, that are grounded in evidence and that have shown to work elsewhere.”
In March, Doctors and nurses in the country‘s public hospitals went on strike due to lack of personal protective equipment to enable them to safely treat suspected coronavirus patients.