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South Africa to test traditional remedies against Covid-19

Image: JMK [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

R15m from indigenous science budget will be reassigned to trial herbal treatments

South Africa will redirect funding from its indigenous knowledge projects to research traditional medicines’ potential uses against Covid-19.

Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education, science, and technology, made the announcement during a virtual news conference on 8 July. 

Nzimande said several traditional medicines and herbs are being studied for their potential to treat Covid-19 infection and symptoms. Many traditional treatments are used for respiratory illnesses, including Artemisia afra (wormwood), he said. 

“We are investing in researching our own traditional African herbs that are used as medicine so that they are not researched by rich people from North America and Europe who then register these herbs and sell them back [to us] at exorbitant prices,” he said.

Nzimande said that R15 million (US$880,000) from existing indigenous science projects will be reassigned to Covid-19. He added that the Department of Science and Innovation had applied for additional funding in this regard, for clinical studies and agro-processing of herbal medicines.

Research and innovation on cannabis will also focus on “medicinal products” for Covid-19, the minister said.