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African experts endorse Covid-19 herbal medicine trials

A newly formed World Health Organisation body known as the African Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 has endorsed a protocol for the third phase of clinical trials of herbal medicine aimed at treating the virus, the UN agency said on Sunday.The committee will work together with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission’s Department of Social Affairs in looking for a solution for Covid-19 using herbal medicine in the continent, the WHO said.

The new committee is expected to have a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials, it said.

“Just like other areas of medicine, sound science is the sole basis for safe and effective traditional medicine therapies,” the Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at the WHO Regional Office for Africa in Brazzaville, Prosper Tumusiime, said on Sunday.

He added: “The onset of Covid-19, like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, has highlighted the need for strengthened health systems and accelerated research and development programmes, including on traditional medicines.”

The official said 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.

According to him, Phase 3 clinical trials were pivotal in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product.

And the data safety and monitoring board would ensure that the accumulated studies data were reviewed periodically against participants’ safety, he said.

The board would also make recommendations on the continuation, modification or termination of a trial based on evaluation of data at predetermined periods during the study, Tumusiime added.

Published on 28.04.2020

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