NATIONAL NEWS - After the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recent appeal to open up findings on Covid-19 as it unveiled a global knowledge-sharing platform, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) yesterday called for traditional healers to be included.
The WHO information pool is intended to be a voluntary worldwide repository of intellectual property and open-sourced data, allowing everyone involved to benefit from each other’s advances in a common front against the new coronavirus.
Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado, who first proposed the idea, said now was no time to be selfish in the race to find effective vaccines, treatments, and technology to combat the deadly pandemic sweeping the globe.
“The idea is to make available for everybody around the world the different advancements and innovations,” Alvarado said at a WHO press conference, via videolink.
“We want to see those innovations and technologies as global public goods to protect humanity against this threat.”
CRL chair Professor David Mosoma said the commission applauded all efforts being made both locally and globally to develop vaccines and a cure.
“Cognisant of the potential and efficacy of traditional and natural healing for a variety of physical and emotional ailments, the commission strongly encourages the inclusion of African traditional health practitioners in our worldwide search for remedies that can contribute to combatting the virus,” Mosoma said.
Dozens of vaccine projects have been launched worldwide and several clinical trials are under way to try to find a cure for the disease.
“The profound health and socio-economic impact of Covid-19 in South Africa, Africa, and the world underscores the urgency of developing small scale and local economic initiatives, including the growth of indigenous medicinal plants,” said Mosoma.
“It is for this reason that the CRL Rights Commission has called for the establishment of a South African institute for integrated African herbal medicine in which the traditional health practitioners are a significant part.
“The institute will, inter alia, deal with research, cultivation and processing of medicinal plants to determine efficacy and quality of the medicine required.”
The potential financial stakes are huge and several major pharmaceutical companies are racing against the clock in the hope of being the first to bring a vaccine to market.
Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, triggered a storm this week when it said that any potential Covid-19 vaccine it reached would go to the United States first because Washington was helping to fund its quest.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said researchers were working at breakneck speed to understand the virus and develop potential vaccines and medicines.
However, “traditional market models will not deliver at the scale needed to cover the entire globe”, he said. “In these extraordinary circumstances, we need to unleash the full power of science to deliver innovations that are scalable, usable, and benefit everyone, everywhere, at the same time,” Ghebreyesus said.
“Solidarity within and between countries and the private sector is essential if we are to overcome these difficult times.”
The platform will be officially launched on 29 May.
Additional reporting by AFP