Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has hit back at critics of an untested herbal tonic that he is promoting as a treatment for coronavirus, despite it not having gone through clinical trials.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning against people using untested remedies for coronavirus.
Africans deserved access to medicines that had gone through proper trials even if they were derived from traditional treatments, it said.
The African Union (AU) has also said it wanted to see the scientific data on the “safety and efficacy” of the product.
Nevertheless, the tonic, known as Covid-Organics, has been sent to several African countries. Nigeria has become the latest country to say it would receive it.
Speaking to French news channel, France 24, Mr Rajoelina said that criticism of the drink, known as Covid-Organics, showed what he called Western nations’ condescending attitude to traditional African medicine.
“If it wasn’t Madagascar, and if it was a European country that had actually discovered this remedy, would there be so much doubt? I don’t think so,” he said.
But there is no peer-reviewed data to show that Covid-Organics is effective.
The tonic was tested on fewer than 20 people over three weeks, a presidential aide told the BBC – which is not in line with WHO guidelines on clinical trials.
A meeting of 70 experts on African traditional medicine has agreed that clinical trials for all medicines must be carried out, the WHO’s Africa region has said.
There has also been warning from experts that the drink could give people a false sense of security which could lead people to expose themselves to the virus.
Meanwhile, the head of Nigeria’s government task force on coronavirus has said President Muhammadu Buhari has given the go-ahead for the importation of Covid-Organics.
But officials said the import would be subjected to standard validation processes before it would be used on coronavirus patients.