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Experts Approve COVID-19 Herbal Medicine Clinical Trials In Africa

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 has endorsed the protocol for COVID-19 herbal medicine clinical trials in Africa.

The Committee adopted a protocol for phase III clinical trials of herbal medicine for COVID-19 as well as a charter and terms of reference for the establishment of a data and safety monitoring board for herbal medicine clinical trials.

The 25-member Committee is tasked with supporting countries to enhance research and development of traditional medicine-based therapies against the virus and provide guidance on the implementation of the approved protocols to generate scientific evidence on the quality, safety and efficacy of herbal medicines for COVID-19.

The Committee members are from research institutions, national regulatory authorities, traditional medicine programmes, public health departments, academia, medical and pharmacy professions and civil society organizations of Member States.

The endorsed technical documents by the Committee, established by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, are aimed at empowering and developing a critical mass of technical capacity of scientists in Africa

In addition, they are also aimed at empowering at empowering scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials to ensure quality, safety and efficacy of traditional medicines in line with international standards.

Meanwhile, the Phase III clinical trials are pivotal in fully assessing the safety and efficacy of a new medical product. The data safety and monitoring board will ensure that the accumulated studies data are reviewed periodically against participants’ safety.

It will further make recommendations on the continuation, modification or termination of a trial based on evaluation of data at predetermined periods during the study.

Director of Universal Health Coverage and Life Course Cluster at WHO Regional Office for Africa, Dr Prosper Tumusiime said 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”, he said.

According to him, if a traditional medicine product is found to be safe, efficacious and quality-assured, WHO will recommend for a fast-tracked, large-scale local manufacturing.

He further explained 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.

Also in his remarks, the Expert Committee Chairman, Professor Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa noted that the adoption of the 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.

He also expressed optimism 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.


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