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Despite warnings, many still patronise trado-medics in Nigeria

It has been observed that despite several warnings from many quarters against the use of trado-medics (traditional medicines) in an attempt to cure COVID-19, people are still patronising this form of medicine. Many have even gone as far as sharing of ingredients for herbal concoctions on social media platforms. This reporter noticed this alarming trend on Saturday 2nd of May via a thread on twitter.

In many responses that followed a call out to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) by a Twitter user, Mr History (@_iamhistory), a number of users trooped to the timeline to offer alternative remedies, most of which are herbal.

The user called out NCDC for negligence occasioned by the agency’s lack of prompt response to the distress call made by a member of his/her family whom they suspected had contracted the novel virus.

“Dear @NCDCgov it is with tears in my eyes that I tweet at you.

It’s been 4 days you took my aunt’s and her husband’s samples in Kano and no result yet.

Their health condition is deteriorating and they have kids at home.

Nigerians, help me beg NCDC to do needful ? ?“, the tweet ends.

In the replies to this tweet, many people began exchanging herbal remedies for COVID-19.

As it was witnessed in the comments section, a tweet by on Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola), in a manner that suggests he/she does not believe in the orthodox medicine, or the recommendations and advice of the relevant authorities managing the pandemic in Nigeria, quickly reeled off ingredients to form a herbal concoction to be used on the suspected COVID-19 patient at home.

According to the tweet ad verbum: “Cut pawpaw leaves, dogoyaro leaves, lemongrass leaves, mango leaves, plantain leaves, ginger, garlic, lime or lemon. Put all in a big put that can contain 30 – 40 litres of water and cook it till 100°©. Then cover yourself and steam with it.”

Not long after the first recommendation another set of tweets in the thread also gave a series of lists of trado-medic ingredients for the medical intervention for the suspected COVID-19 patient.

According to another user, O.O.A (@likisb), wrote: “Ginger garlic, lime blend into a paste. Lemon & ginger tea 2 satchels & paracetamol wit warm water. Start giving it to dem ASAP,” as the necessary ingredients to ensure the patient survives.

For one Yemisi Fakunle (@YFakunle) as it could be inferred, the fate of the patient was in their hands and not in the hands of health practitioners. The person tweeted: “Pls let ur ant and husband start taking black seed oil, honey and carrot while using other medicines to curb the symptoms they are having ọ. Their destiny is in their hand ọ. Don’t wait for one non-responsive NCDC. They are all audio response.”

Another tweet by one Ona Ebunoluwa Amalu (@AmaluOna) prescribed: “Pfizer azithromycin for 6 days….they should not lie on their backs, let them stay hydrated, stay under the sun for at least 1hr….and habit of exercise if possible. On no account should they let the illness bring them down by staying in bed. I know it’s not easy let them try.” This, he believes, is the remedy for the disease.

As at the time of filing this report, the thread had over five thousand retweets with over five thousand likes which indicate acceptance by the majority of people who have come in contact with the tweet.

In another twist to this, another tweet was observed with the claims of proffering traditional vaccines for the pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, what made the tweet prominent is not unconnected to a proxy approval by a twitter account @Odunadekolade, supposedly owned by a Nigerian celebrity known as Odunlade Adelola, who also is an NCDC ambassador.

In response to a tweet by @AremuRi08477934 who had said ad verbum: “I will get Nigeria a traditional vaccine If it will be accepted by the government,” the star’s handle commented: “Please work on it, bro. This can earn you a fortune.”

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria, several calls by the government authorities, international bodies and foremost medical practitioners have been made to dissuade people from patronising herbal remedies in an attempt to cure COVID-19, as there is no known vaccine for the novel disease.

The Minister of Information and Communication, Lai Mohammed, recently warned the public against patronising a herbal mixture being sold in Kano State, purporting to be a cure for COVID-19. He further maintained that there is no known vaccine for the cure of the novel disease.

In the wake of the controversial Madagascar herbal medicine, the World Health Organisation has warned the general public against patronising any alternative medicine that has not been scientifically tested to ensure its efficacy for the treatment of the virus.

The world apex body for health care, in a statement issued on Tuesday 4th of May, warning against the use of social media to propagate trado-medic medicines that have not been tested for efficacy. They also stated that although the body supports the use of any alternative medicine, however, such a remedy must have been proven scientifically for effectiveness to avoid counterproductivity.

“As efforts are underway to find treatment for COVID-19, caution must be taken against misinformation, especially on social media, about the effectiveness of certain remedies. Many plants and substances are being proposed without the minimum requirements and evidence of quality, safety and efficacy. The use of products to treat COVID-19, which have not been robustly investigated can put people in danger, giving a false sense of security and distracting them from hand washing and physical distancing which are cardinal in COVID-19 prevention, and may also increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety,” the statement read.

This is also coming in spite of constant warnings by NCDC that people should desist from adopting alternative remedies as there has not been a clinical trial on them to confirm their efficacy, and more so, intake of the herbal concoctions is harmful to the health and capable of putting “people in danger, giving a false sense of security, increase self-medication and the risk to patient safety.”

It has also been reported that NCDC, the government agency in the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, has its task made more difficult by the flood of misinformation, especially on social media, putting the agency’s efforts in jeopardy.

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