Prof Moses Ochonu
Any African COVID treatment candidate whose creator/inventor is bold enough to stand by it and put it in the public domain deserves to be given a chance rather than dismissed.
Our inferiority complex as Africans leads us to devalue things that originate from our continent. What we don’t know is that Africa is home to arguably the greatest concentration of therapeutic plants and organic matter in the world.
As my colleague, Professor Abena-Osseo-Asari of the University of Texas, demonstrates in her award-winning book, it is the reason that Africa is perhaps the biggest victim of bio-piracy, the theft and subsequent medicinal commercialization of Africa-derived plant extracts.
In general, I’m in favor of developing African solutions to our problems because those solutions, once tested and proven, are unencumbered by the rapacious politics of neoliberal profiteering and can be sourced cheaply.
In that spirit, Africans who put their therapeutic inventions in the public domain deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt and deserve to be seriously vetted, not dismissed.
If you have not guessed by this point, I’m speaking for the Madagascan COVID concoction launched with fanfare by their president. It is made from the extract of an African plant that is available in multiple countries.
If the formula is made public and African medical scientists confirm the efficacy and safety of the medicine, they can quickly replicate it across different African countries to help our people while working out ways to give intellectual credit (and perhaps some royalties) to the original Madagascan inventors/investors.
When it comes to the urgent COVID situation candidate medicines do not even have to be cures. Anything that slows the progression of the disease, quicken recovery, or boosts the body’s immunity to fight off the virus would make a big difference.
We know that many African medicinal plant extracts, combinations, and formulations have immune-boosting capacity that can hasten recovery and reduce mortality by enhancing the body’s immune response against COVID. In the absence of vaccines, these kinds of medicines may be what Africans need in the interim, and they can be produced cheaply and in large quantities from African natural sources.
Let’s encourage those claiming to have developed cures and therapies for COVID to come forward with their inventions so that their claims can be verified and, if that is done, the product can be fast-tracked to patients.
For cure claimants it is time to put up or shut up. If they don’t come forward, they don’t deserve to be taken seriously. Those who come forward must be commended and taken seriously and not put down before their claims are tested.