The Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 formed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs has endorsed a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for COVID-19.
“Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies. The onset of COVID-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines,” said Dr Prosper Tumusiime, director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at the WHO Regional Office for Africa.
If a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality-assured, WHO will recommend fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing, Dr Tumusiime explained, noting that 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.
“The adoption of technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 are generated without compromising the safety of participants,” said Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa, chairman of the Regional Expert Committee.
He voiced hope that 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.