Africa: WHO, Africa CDC in Joint Push for Covid-19 Traditional Medicine Research in Africa

Community Health Volunteers in Nzinia dispensary, Kitui West being equipped with mass screening and contact tracing skills to support in Covid-19 response activities within rural households done under Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program.

Addis Ababa/Brazzaville - In a joint effort to enhance research and development of traditional medicines for COVID-19 in Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) today launched an expert advisory committee/panel to provide independent scientific advice and support to countries on the safety, efficacy and quality of traditional medicine therapies.

The 25-member Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 will support countries in collaborative efforts to conduct clinical trials of traditional medicines in compliance with international standards.

By pooling expertise within the continent, the Regional Expert Committee will also accelerate the pace and elevate the standards of research, particularly clinical research on new therapies from traditional medicines against 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.

"Interest in traditional medicine as potential remedies for COVID-19 is growing in Africa. As the world races to find treatment and vaccines against the virus, research into traditional and orthodox medicines as potential COVID-19 therapy must be grounded in science, and today marks an important step in supporting these endeavours," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

"Commendable efforts are ongoing on the continent to find COVID-19 therapies in traditional medicine. Rigorous clinical testing to evaluate safety and efficacy will be critical, similar to other areas of medicine," said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC and WHO Special Envoy on COVID-19.

Members of the Regional Expert Committee are mainly from research institutions, national regulatory authorities, traditional medicine programmes, public health departments, academia, medical pharmacy professions and civil society organizations of Member States.

Their expertise covers various areas such as traditional medicine research and development, laboratory and pre-clinical research; clinical research; regulation of medical products; research ethics; public health and community empowerment; leadership and governance; laboratory strengthening and infectious disease.

The Regional Expert Committee will start working immediately. Developing a master protocol to guide countries on clinical trials for COVID-19 and setting the agenda to support Member States will be among the initial tasks.

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