GOVERNMENT has said that it only recognises scientifically proven and evidence-based remedies for coronavirus (Covid-19) but will not stop people from seeking assistance from traditional medical practitioners if they choose to do so.
The move by the department of traditional medicine in the Ministry of Health and Child Care to allow traditional healers to assist suspected Covid-19 patients with herbal remedies attracted mixed reactions especially on social media.
A letter dated April 1, 2020 from the Ministry to the City Health Director, Dr Prosper Chonzi, who is in charge of Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital, advised that patients could by consent and choice, consult traditional healers after which their condition would have been monitored.
"The Government of Zimbabwe recognises the use of traditional medicines. To this end, a registered traditional medical practitioner can prescribe and administer traditional medicine to his or her patients.
"We may want to monitor (the) response of volunteering patients," read the letter.
Dr Prosper Chonzi yesterday confirmed receiving the letter but urged people suspecting to have been infected with Covid-19 to visit designated testing centres for diagnosis and treatment even if they initially sought help from traditional healers.
"Even after consulting traditional medical practitioners, people who suspect that they may have contracted the virus should visit testing centres to confirm whether or not they have been affected. They should not wait until their condition deteriorates as this reduces their chances of survival while also exposing other people to the virus," he said.
Principal director curative services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Sydney Makarau yesterday said there was no cure yet for Covid-19 the world over and in Zimbabwe, no one had presented remedies scientifically proven for effectiveness and safety.
"While the Ministry acknowledges the role of traditional medicine, we do not give blessings on non-evidence based remedies.
"Our dilemma however, is that some people within our population would still want to consult traditional healers and we cannot deny them that opportunity if they wish to do so.
"They can do so on their own volition but without us as Ministry having to necessarily rubber stamp their claims in instances where they are not backed by science," said Dr Makarau.
The department of traditional medicine through its director Mr Onias Ndoro informed Wilkins Hospital to allow traditional medical practitioner, Mr Kenneth Chivizhe to use his herbal remedies on willing Covid-19 patients.
"Mr Kenneth Chivizhe, ID Number 29-113956-D-18 is registered as a traditional medical practitioner. Mr Chivizhe has herbal medicine believed to alleviate symptoms related to Covid-19.
"Kindly assist him to help patients that may be willing to use his herbal product. Please note this is by consent and choice of the patients," reads part of the letter.
Mr Ndoro further wrote in his letter that his department wanted to monitor the response of volunteering patients to the prescribed concoctions.
While some sections of the society felt that it was a good move to give traditional medicine a chance in the fight against Covid-19, others felt it would do more harm than good considering that there were no spelt out measures on coordination, monitoring and management of cases handled by the traditional practitioners.