MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

The WHO have issued the following press-release:

The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19.

WHO recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits and Africa has a long history of traditional medicine and practitioners that play an important role in providing care to populations. Medicinal plants such as Artemisia annua are being considered as possible treatments for COVID-19 and should be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects. Africans deserve to use medicines tested to the same standards as people in the rest of the world. Even if therapies are derived from traditional practice and natural, establishing their efficacy and safety through rigorous clinical trials is critical.

African governments through their Ministers of Health adopted a resolution urging Member States to produce evidence on the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine at the Fiftieth Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa in 2000. Countries also agreed to undertake relevant research and require national medicines regulatory agencies to approve medicines in line with international standards, which include the product following a strict research protocol and undergoing tests and clinical trials. These studies normally involve hundreds of people under the monitoring of the national regulatory authorities and may take quite a few months in an expedited process.

WHO is working with research institutions to select traditional medicine products which can be investigated for clinical efficacy and safety for COVID-19 treatment. In addition, the Organization will continue to support countries as they explore the role of traditional health practitioners in prevention, control, and early detection of the virus as well as case referral to health facilities.

Over the past two decades, WHO has been working with countries to ensure safe and effective traditional medicine development in Africa by providing financial resources and technical support. WHO has supported clinical trials, leading 14 countries to issue marketing authorization for 89 traditional medicine products which have met international and national requirements for registration. Of these, 43 have been included in national essential medicines lists. These products are now part of the arsenal to treat patients with a wide range of diseases including malaria, opportunistic infections related to HIV, diabetes, sickle cell disease and hypertension. Almost all countries in the WHO African region have national traditional medicine policies, following support from WHO.

As efforts are under way to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy. The use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety.

WHO welcomes every opportunity to collaborate with countries and researchers to develop new therapies and encourages such collaboration for the development of effective and safe therapies for Africa and the world.

________________________________

While this message – mostly directed towards Africa – seems very clear and reasonable, it is, at the same time, prone to be misunderstood. Here is an excerpt from an Ghana newspaper article commenting on the WHO initiative which demonstrates my point:

In the view of this newspaper, it stands to reason that, since the virus, was transmitted from animals, the best form of cure, is to use herbs.

We have abundance of the plant Madagascar is using to develop the cure. Medical doctors should stop seeing those practicing alternative medicine, as competitors.

The open hatred, and disdain by medical doctors, towards practitioners of alternative medicine, must be a cause for concern by all.

In the considered opinion of this newspaper, the government must bring the two together to work to avert any calamity.

The number of cases recorded so far, is a ticking time bomb. We cannot continue to treat it as business as usual, where traditional medicine practitioners, will claim to make a discovery, which will not be accepted by their counterpart who practice orthodox medicine.

If any country in Africa, should have been the first to announce a discovery of cure for coronavirus, using herbal remedy it should have been Ghana.

We can do a lot, if the two come together, instead of working at cross purpose.

This is how easily the crucial WHO message ‘the use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger’ can be forgotten.

FIRST TEST

MAKE SURE IT WORKS

MAKE SURE IT’S REASONABLY SAFE

THEN USE IN ROUTINE CARE

Everything else is not going to be helpful!

17 Responses to WHO statement on alternative therapies for COVID-19

  • Does the WHO have any credibility left at all? The head of WHO is a disgrace who sold out to the Chinese Communist Party in exchange for support for the position.

    This statement is an equal disgrace. Advocating for sCAM fails medical science totally and idiotic calls to acknowledge baseless nonsense as being worthy of consideration should put all of the nails n the coffin of this political gaming for personal gain.

    As much as I am not a fan of the US leader, I agree with slashing funding until this mess is sorted out.

  • FIRST TEST

    MAKE SURE IT WORKS

    MAKE SURE IT’S REASONABLY SAFE

    THEN USE IN ROUTINE CARE

    The WHO seems to have recognized the helplessness of conventional medicine with Sars-CoV-2 (especially with regard to shortness of breath and the intravascularly triggered autoimmune phenomenon with the tendency to thrombosis) and also the potential of CAM medicine (in contrast to the hardliners)! In the meantime, homeopaths all over the world have collected the homeopathically treated cases in huge amounts, analyzed them in the most detailed form in databases and are happy to make them available to WHO.
    And even recent recommendations from pulmonologists regarding the complications with Sars-Cov-2 incorporate CAM methods into their actions based on positive experiences….
    https://www.evms.edu/media/evms_public/departments/internal_medicine/EVMS_Critical_Care_COVID-19_Protocol.pdf

    • *yawn*

      How boring, the same tangled web of factual distortion as always. Do you have talked with Wodarg or Bhakdi?

      • In contrast to Anonymus with real patients who complained of violent dyspnea and fear of death, for which the school mediator could not offer them a solution ….
        Nothing to deliver except cynicism, Dr. Anonymous?

        • I use irony and sarcasm, my dear MD. This is something you do not understand, because you take yourself far too seriously and important.

          You, on the other hand, are cynical because you treat your patients with proven ineffective SCAM.

        • @Henry,
          If you have anything proven to work, spill your guts now, otherwise it is the same crap as last time, and the time before, and before that, ad nauseum?

  • There is no conflict between those who practice modern.medicine and ‘traditional practitioners.’

    There is only one sort of ‘medicine’.

    That which works and that which does not.

    Ehd of.
    And end of WHO it looks like.

    • Richard:
      “Please remember: if you make a claim in a comment, support it with evidence.”

      https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/9/6/e024886
      https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2753.2007.00886.x

      So remember:
      The evidence of homeopathy is equivalent to that of conventional medicine!

      The WHO obviously recognized this contrary to you!

      • if I did not know that you lack humour, I would conclude that you are joking.

        • No joke (because I lack humor….)
          “Please remember: if you make a claim in a comment, support it with evidence.”

          And when it comes to helping patients with life-threatening shortness of breath with Sars-CoV-2, for whom conventional medicine has nothing to offer, then I lack any sense of humor ….

          • I thought you had studied and practised proper medicine; then you should know that conventional medicine has a lot to offer to pts with life-threatening breathlessness.
            unless of course you are a quack

          • Concerning shortness of breath in (post)-Sars-CoV-2 Cases

            “Please remember: if you make a claim in a comment, support it with evidence”

            …..that conventional medicine has anything to offer except oxygenation………..

            No joke!

            No “eminence-Blasiert*” theorizing. *german

          • oh, you DO have humour!
            you added ‘except oxygenation’!!!
            little cheeky devil, you.

  • “WHO recognizes that traditional, complementary and alternative medicine has many benefits..”

    Such as?

    This statement by the WHO is an absolute disgrace.

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