Monrovia – Though unapproved by the World Health Organization (WHO), the President of Liberia is giving the COVID-Organics – a herbal medicine from Madagascar that reportedly cures and prevents COVID-19 – a shot in his bid to rid the country of the 2019 novel coronavirus or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SAR)-nCoV-2.
The herb is proving popular in the battle against COVID-19, especially among some African countries, but the WHO warned that there is no proof that the herb actually works. While the Malagasy President Andry Rajoelina insists his COVID-Organic is so effective, the WHO says the herbal medicine has not been scientifically tested and warned that its effectiveness has not been proven.
But as a small consignment of the herbal medicine in a small box with two other smaller boxes arrived in Liberia onboard a charted flight, President George Weah and a high-profile delegation of Ministers including Health Minister, Dr. Wilhemina Jallah, Foreign Minister Gbehzongar Findley, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill went to receive it, it became evident that government is considering giving the unapproved COVID-Organic a try in its quest to conquer the virus despite the WHO warnings.
A Small Box on Charted Flight
Prior to the arrival of the Malagasy medicine in Liberia, there were pro-government rants on social media that the President would be receiving a huge consignment of the COVID-Organic.
At the RIA, only a box, with two smaller boxes sitting on top, was presented to Pres. Weah, who spoke French with the gentleman, who accompanied the traditional medicine, which the Malagasy President and people are now promoting as cure and prevention for Covid-19.
Addressing his officials, Pres. Weah disclosed that his “good friend”, the President of Guinea Bissau, Mr. Umaro Sissoco Embaló, called him two days ago and told him that he was sending coronavirus preventive and cure medicine. Pres. Weah also thanked Pres. Rajoelina and his government for the consignment.
Guinea Bissau was the country to import the herbal medicine from Madagascar, stating that it would turn Guinea Bissau’s story around.
The cartons, which some sources say contain 18 bottles each, came on a chartered flight, which landed at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County and President Weah, along with Foreign Minister Milton Gbehzohngar Findley, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill, Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah and others, was present to receive them from the representative, who accompanied the three cartons.
It was Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon, after a tooth and nail engagement with this newspaper, who had to finally disclose to this newspaper that only three cartons containing two different substances were brought into Liberia.
“One of the substances is the cure and the other one is the prevention of the Covid-19,” Fahngon said.
Pres. Weah had earlier translated to Health Minister Jallah the warnings of the medicine. “The people that can’t take this medicine are people who have diabetes, women that are pregnant and children less than two years can’t take this medicine,” the President told Dr. Jallah as he did the French translation of the gentleman, who had accompanied the medicine.
The Liberian authorities seem to be leaning on the Malagasy side, claiming that WHO had never approved some locally used herbs that have proven effective in Liberia.
Speaking to reporters, who had gone to the airport, Minister McGill said, “We are Africans; when we were growing up when we had malaria even before you took chloroquine, you were taking kojologbo. We believe that our African herbs can do a very important work.”
The Presidential Affairs Minister indicated that the medicine was brought into the country “for Liberia to try it.”
Responding to questions from journalists, the Minister admitted that the WHO has not formally approved the drug. He added, however, “But we are Africans; when you are taking kojologbo to cure malaria I don’t think WHO has approved of kojologbo. In the interior, what our parents were taking? We are Africans, we believe in our traditional herbs.”
He also disclosed that the three cartons are just “simple”; adding: “When it starts working, when we see the effectiveness, then we will bring in more.”
Touching on those who will intake the liquid substance, Min. McGill told the journalist, who asked the question, “You want try it, I will give you some,” before adding “some of our friends, who are already sick, will take some and we ourselves will take some, too.”
What Liberians Think
In his reaction to the donation of the ‘COVID-19 cure’, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah who headed the Incident Management System (IMS) during the Ebola epidemic and subsequently became the head of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), recalled that when Ebola struck in 2014, there were no drugs nor vaccines. He recalled that the then Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, wrote is counterpart, the Secretary of Health and Human Services of the United States, to help Liberia with any medication or drugs.
Then Foreign Minister, Augustine Ngafuan was leaving the U.S. on one of his resource mobilization and diplomatic missions was given a box that contained doses of ZMAPP drug.
He noted, “This drug was approved by the US FDA only for compassionate use-meaning it was not approved fully but could be used base on the patient’s expressed consent.
He warned that “during outbreaks like Ebola, COVID-19, where there are no known cures, even black beggars can pretend and lie to get a cure.”
He warned the government to be extremely careful about what to accept as quick solutions.
Farfini Keywoofini Ballah Kamara commented on social media upon the arrival of the herbal tonic: “The world is angry about this development…There should be much more watchful eyes on this product. We need to avoid the infiltration of fake massive production that could endanger the lives of our people. Let the masses be abreast with the number of bottles that have arrived.
Rosetta L. Gbassay Bowah: “God has approved it. Even if this is 100% proven to be the cure, WHO won’t approve because it is from Africa. Can anything good come from Africa? Wait and see the miraculous power of God.”
Amanda Padmoore: “God is always in the business of helping His people, thank you LORD and thanks Mr. President for the efforts.”
Felix Bioh: “Great job to the President and his team for embracing and accepting this precious gift from our fellow African brothers and sisters of Madagascar. This is a sign that Africa is willing to work together.”