Ghana approves herbal medication for Covid-19

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First herbal medicine for a clinical trial on COVID-19 treatment by Researchers from the School of Public Health at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has been approved.

The medicine dubbed Cryptolepis Sanguinolenta, locally known as Nibima was approved by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) on Monday, February 1, 2021.

Mrs Delese A.A. Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the FDA confirmed the approval in a statement issued in Accra.

The researchers had earlier submitted a clinical application in search of the Covid-19 treatment.

The application was to assess the safety and efficacy of Cryptolepois Sanguinolenta as a potential treatment of COVID-19.

This follows results from lab studies conducted by the KNUST Research team, which points in the direction of possible clinical benefits.

This is, however, not the first time the medicine is being used.

Also Read: Pandemic, AfCFTA wakeup call for Africa’s pharmaceuticals

The roots of cryptolepis, also known as nibima, kadze, gangamau, Ghanaian quinine and yellow-dye root (Cryptolepis sanguinolenta) have been used in Ghanaian traditional medicine for treatment of malaria for many generations.

A Ghanaian drug company developed a herbal tea formulation trademarked as Phyto-Laria based on this plant, and the clinical evaluation of its potential as a herbal drug treatment for malaria was conducted.

The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs last year endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for COVID-19 as well as a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials.

Dr Prosper Tumusiime, Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa said sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies, just like other areas of medicine.

The endorsed technical documents were aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards.

Also Read: COVAX in Africa: Resetting the economy? 

If a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality-assured, WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing.

Through the African Vaccine Regulatory Forum, there is now a benchmark upon which clinical trials of medicines and vaccines in the region can be assessed and approved in fewer than 60 days.

According to Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa, the Expert Committee Chairman, the generic clinical trial protocol will be immediately used by scientists in the region to ensure that people can benefit from the potential of traditional medicine in dealing with the ongoing pandemic.

The 25-members of the Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 are tasked with supporting countries to enhance research and development of traditional medicine-based therapies against the virus and provide guidance on the implementation of the approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal medicines for COVID-19.

The Committee members are from research institutions, national regulatory authorities, traditional medicine programmes, public health departments, academia, medical and pharmacy professions and civil society organizations of Member States.

Other Vaccines

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said preparations were afoot to secure COVID-19 vaccines for the country’s population.

In his national COVID-19 broadcast in December last year, Akufo-Addo said he had put together a team of experts to work out a program for purchasing the vaccines now in use in some countries.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. Photo/Courtesy

Noting that he was “aware of the anxieties relating to the safety and efficacy of newly-developed vaccines,” he said the Ghanaian government “will ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines to be deployed in the country are effective and are safe.”

The president said the cluster of cases in the country were due to indoor spaces with poor ventilation, congested workplaces, factories, schools, parties, and arriving passengers “at our airports.”

Ghana has recorded 67,010 Covid-19 cases, 61, 236 recoveries and 416 deaths, as per Tuesday, February 2, 2021.

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