Traditional Healers Call For Collaboration With Scientists To Fight COVID-19

ZIMBABWE National Practitioners Association (ZINPA) president, Mr Friday Chishanyu has called for genuine collaboration between traditional medicines practitioners and scientists in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which has wreaked havoc across the globe.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, 80 percent of the global population rely on traditional medicines for treatment and 80 percent of Zimbabwe’s population also rely on indigenous medicines.

In an interview with HealthTimes, Mr Chishanyu  said even though they can’t claim to have a cure for COVID-19, a number of herbs and traditional medicines in Zimbabwe were capable of treating COVID-19 symptoms.

In terms of collaboration with local scientists and medical practitioners, I would say there is unofficial collaboration, there is no documented partnership between us.

“Government should take centre stage in coming up with a legal framework for referrals between traditional medicines practitioners and Morden medical practitioners. At moment, the position concerning the COVID-19 situation is that people are coming to buy traditional medicines as immune boosters against the pandemic,” said Mr Chishanyu.

He added that unlike modern medicines where stocks at times run out, traditional medicines are always in abundance and readily available.

“A clear legal frameworks for referrals will ensure that there will be collaboration between traditional and modern practitioners. In doing so, we give patients a choice of treatment just like in other countries where indigenous and modern day medical knowledge systems work together to achieve one goal.

“Also note that whenever there is an outbreak, not everyone has seeks treatment from hospitals and modern day medicines especially those in remote areas. We do not have a treatment for COVID-19 as yet but we have medicines we have always been using to treat respiratory ailments here in Zimbabwe.”

Some of the traditional medicines used to treat respiratory symptoms include Zumbani (Fever Tea Tree), Muchecheni among a host of others.

“Most treatment and healing happens within the traditional medicines circles. In traditional medicines we have categories. We have traditional pharmacologists (those who heal using spirit mediums), herbalists, and homeopath (those who learn about herbs or medicines from social groups) that’s why we have such a high percentage of traditional medicines users.”

At least 3.2 million cases of COVID-19 have been recorded across the globe including 217 000 deaths. Zimbabwe currently has 32 confirmed cases of the virus including four deaths according to the ministry of health and child care (MoHCC).

He also said Zimbabwe has indigenous traditional medicines which are at times taken in as food with the aim of boosting the immune system.

Meanwhile, Madagascar has unveiled an organic concoction to cure the infected patients called  Covid Organics (CVO) – a form of herbal tea – is curing COVID-19 patients has divided public opinion in the island nation.

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