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COVID-19 treatment: Endogenous cures can also do the trick!

By Kimeng Hilton NDUKONG (People's Daily Online)    15:48, May 26, 2020

While the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19 frantically continues across the globe, Cameroonians have also been on a quest for a cure to the disease. Such efforts require the financial and technical support of an international partner like China, reports *Kimeng Hilton NDUKONG.

China today boasts more than 3,500 years of traditional medicine practice. The Chinese have so perfected their art that Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is now studied in universities – just like Western or orthodox medicine, with students eventually qualifying as Doctors of Medicine, or MDs, in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Thus, the country is well placed to compare notes on traditional medicine.

Moreover, China’s technological and industrial advancement make a good case for collaboration with African traditional medicine and orthodox scientists. This, for example, could be done in the areas of peer review, obtaining relevant international patents, mass production, ensuring wider distribution…

“An unexpected lesson from the coronavirus pandemic is that pristine African remedies have given voice to the continent to henceforth provide solutions to international disasters,” says Prof. Fru Asanji Fobuzshi Angwafo, Director General of the Gynaeco-Obstetric and Pediatric Hospital in Yaounde, Cameroon. Constructed by the Chinese government, the hospital has received a number of Chinese medical teams over the years.

According to Prof. Angwafo, “budding scientific research, in the realm of traditional pharmacopoeia, has proffered endogenous responses, bringing a glimmer of hope to Africans in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic… These positive initiatives are begging for concerted efforts and resolve to structure and fund medicinal research and its champions,” he notes. “It is more compelling today to muster the vigour needed to protect African fauna and flora and reward the rigours of scientific distinction,” he underscores.

On the African continent, Madagascar’s COVID Organics, the Coronavirus preventive/curative potion, was recently given a boost when President Andry Rajoelina publicly launched and drank it on April 22, 2020. In Cameroon, a growing number of herbalists, traditional healers and medical practitioners have been coming up with proposed cures for the deadly virus. Given that so far there is no vaccine or generally accepted orthodox medical treatment for the disease, many affected Cameroonian families will be ready to give some of these cures a try.

Perhaps, the best known of all these local cures are MSK 1 and MSK 2, as the treatment potions of Archbishop Samuel Kleda of the Catholic Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon, are currently known. The prelate, who has over 30 years of studying and using herbs, says over 400 patients - including health personnel - in the archdiocese’s health facilities who received the treatment were all cured! Kleda has already met with a scientific team dispatched by the Ministry of Public Health to see how the two sides can work on getting the cure evaluated and approved.

Dr Jean Eddy Azombo, based in Yaounde, has discovered Fagaricine, which is also used for treating the coronavirus. He is the Africa Representative of Epsilon Santé Internationale, an international health organisation that also runs medical laboratories. Fagaricine, which received some initial approval four years ago and is currently distributed in local pharmacies, was first discovered by Prof. Bruno Eto, Chairman of Epsilon Santé Internationale. It was then used to boost the immune systems of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Pierre Aba Noa, a Yaounde-based herbalist with 27 years of experience, has also put on the market Phyto Concept, which is said to cure all symptoms related to respiratory difficulties in COVID-19 patients. Noa says the product, which also protects the nervous system and handles catarrh and body inflammations, can be taken alongside other herbs to cure COVID-19.

Marlyse Paule Mbezele Ndi Samba epouse Peyou holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from Washington State University in the USA. The lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Yaounde I has developed Ngul Be Tara or “the power of ancestors” to tackle coronavirus for preventive and curative purposes.

On top of that, Yiagnigni Mfopou Euloge, a Yaounde-based medical practitioner, has also developed a coronavirus cure. Writing to inform the Minister of Public Health on May 7, 2020, the cardiologist requested that the necessary reviews and approvals be made for the product to be mass-produced and distributed.

The cure, based on a substance whose elements have undergone thorough research, is able to destroy the virus in patients presenting or not yet presenting COVID-19 symptoms – but not necessitating admission into intensive care, Dr Yiagnigni stresses. He says it was successfully tried on some 15 patients with no adverse effects noticed after biological tests, X-rays and scans were carried out.

Julius Oben, a Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, says he has discovered coronavirus treatment potential in some ingredients of Achu or Yellow soup. Achu is a dish common in Cameroon’s Northwest Region. It is also available in the West Region, where it is known as Yellow Soup. Finally, Dr Fru, the founder of the Garden of Eden Naturopathic Institute of West Africa, GENIWA, Buea, Cameroon, some months ago put on the market COVID Bitters, a treatment for COVID-19. With more than 20 years of practice, Dr Fru is a familiar name in Cameroon’s traditional medicine field, and runs traditional medicine clinics in several regions.

But with the growing number of supposed treatments for the coronavirus, Prof. Fru Angwafo warns against over-optimism. “Caution is in order,” he says. “In today's society, before a substance is called medication, it must go through the rigours of at least three clinical trials: a trial to gauge its level of toxicity, a second to determine its level of efficacy and side effects and the third, its applicability in given populations. We must avoid the dangers of empiricism, especially with lethal outcomes,” he warns.

“With all due respect, without regard for standard essential biomedical research ethics, people should take purported cures and results out there in the media with a grain of salt. Even in a health emergency, an urgent independent evaluation by peers of teas and concoctions, irrespective of their origin, will do our community good. We deserve a little humility, integrity, veracity and transparency to protect the vulnerable community. In the light of this pandemic and its uncertainties, the vast majority of people are vulnerable. Thus, the need for caution, caution and more caution!” concludes Prof. Fru Asanji Fobuzshi Angwafo.

Because of such concerns, China, with its technological, industrial, drug distribution and financial wherewithal, could be of great assistance to Cameroon. After all, what is the purpose of putting on the market a tested cure that ends up being accessible only to a small population, when thousands of people elsewhere are yearning for it?

*Kimeng Hilton NDUKONG, who is based in Yaounde, Cameroon, is a contributor to People’s Daily English Language Online Desk. He is a 2017 Fellow of the China-Africa Press Centre.

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