University researching efficacy of herbal product on Covid-19 patients
Traditional healers' company trialled product before link to university
Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) says it is still in the early stages of researching the safety and efficacy of a herbal product by traditional practitioners on Covid-19 patients.
The institution was approached by the M5 MediGroup last year to test the safety and efficacy of a herbal product the group prepared and presented as a potential “alternative remedy” for SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 infection.
Prof Mapaseka Seheri, SMU’s director of research and postgraduate studies, said last month a formal collaboration was established with the M5 MediGroup and the group handed over samples of its herbal product to the institution with the understanding that the university will follow all ethical clearance processes to scientifically evaluate the herbal mixture for safety and efficacy.
“Even though the group received positive feedback from their patients in Rustenburg, Soweto, Boksburg and Limpopo, the process to administer the herbal product had occurred prior to the establishment of the relationship between the university and the M5 MediGroup and was done within the scope of the practice of the group of traditional health practitioners,” Seheri said.
The institution said within the existing partnership to test the group’s observational findings, the understanding between the two parties is that the university will develop research protocols to be approved by the SMU Research Ethics Committee (Smurec) for testing the herbal product.
“Furthermore, that the university will only administer the herbal remedies or products to patients once safety has been proven and efficacy subsequently established. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority [Sahpra] will also have to approve the tested product before further distribution,” Seheri said.
In a joint statement, the university said it will continue to work with M5 MediGroup in promoting indigenous knowledge systems using best practices.
“History was indeed made when the traditional practitioners joined hands with the scientists at SMU through the aforementioned relationship committing to contributing to solving the biggest health challenge we have faced in our time. We hereby give assurance to the public that once the university has completed these tests, a comprehensive scientific report will be provided,” Seheri said.
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