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Report: Madagascar hospitals overflow with COVID-19 cases — despite herbal ‘remedy’

Report: Madagascar hospitals overflow with COVID-19 cases — despite herbal ‘remedy’
July 21
15:10 2020

Public hospitals in Madagascar have decried the spike in COVID-19 cases recorded in the country.

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According to a report by Bloomberg, the hospitals said they have reached full capacity and will only accept patients with the most severe forms of COVID-19.

On July 5, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina reimposed a lockdown on the country’s central region until July 26.

The development came after the five public hospitals in Antananarivo, the country’s capital, announced they could no longer cope with the influx of patients.

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The report said only one person per household is allowed to go out to buy food or medicine.

Madagascar had reimposed a lockdown in March, but it was lifted after four weeks.

As of Monday, the country recorded 7,153 cases and 62 deaths.

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This figure is said to exclude those who died at home after refusing to be tested, according to Marie Danielle Vololontiana, the spokeswoman of the country’s COVID-19 command centre.

The report said the government has opened a 400-bed treatment centre for people with mild symptoms and it is importing about 1,000 oxygen machines.

Madagascar had developed “COVID-Organics”, a drug touted by government authorities as a cure for COVID-19.

The drug, which is branded as herbal tea, was launched on April 20, with its main ingredient being sweet wormwood (Artemisia annua), a plant of Asian origin from where the antimalarial drug, artemisinin, came.

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Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned against its use, the Madagascar government boasted of the drug’s potency.

Rajoelina said Madagascar has enough proof to show that COVID-Organics works.

He wondered whether a European country would have received the same suspicion and doubt like his country faced if it had produced a cure for COVID-19.

“Well, we have individually introduced the remedy which contains Malagasy medicinal plants. This is something we are used to in Madagascar. 80% of the population use it,” he said during an interview.

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“COVID-Organics is a preventive and curative remedy against COVID-19. It works really well and it is as a result of the research carried out by the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research which has the status of an original research centre.

“The problem with COVID-Organics is not the formulation. People are badmouthing this product which saves lives. In this battle, there are trying to discourage us, trying to slow us down, stop us from moving forward.

“No one will stop us, not a country, not organization. We in Madagascar have our own tonic, we seek to help our people not become victims of the pandemic.

“No one has died in Madagascar, no one. All we have done is to heal our patients.”

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In May, Madagascar donated some of the products to Nigeria through Guinea-Bissau.

When President Muhammadu Buhari received portions of the drug from Umaro Sissoco Embalo, his Guinea Bissau counterpart, he directed that the drug must be verified before use.

“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” Buhari had said.

The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) in Nigeria said its findings have shown that COVID Organics cannot effectively cure the coronavirus.

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