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Gulu’s Covilyce-I impresses WHO experts

Some of Gulu University’s herbal products. FILE PHOTO URN

Gulu, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Covilyce-1, a polyherbal concoction developed by Gulu University for the treatment of coronavirus disease has received a nod from scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO). The health experts describe the innovation as the right step in the advancement and standardization of African traditional medicine for COVID-19 treatment.

A group of scientists from the University led by Dr. Alice Veronica Lamwaka invented the herbal product last year, which they claimed heals COVID-19 symptoms within 72 hours of usage. Prof. Joseph Okeinbunor, who led a delegation of scientists from the WHO Regional Office for Africa, said the innovation is a good gesture on their calls for more research on African traditional medicine.

The scientists, all members of the Regional Expert Advisory Committee on Traditional Medicine for Covid-19 Response (REACT) visited the university on Friday to review its mission to develop COVID-19 herbal treatment.

Prof, Okeibunor told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that WHO is committed to offering technical support to the University to improve on its innovation. He said that although there is still a lot to be done, it’s remarkable that the scientists have made some good progress so far.

He noted that WHO has taken interest in accelerating the process of developing traditional medicine by ensuring that they are standardized in compliance with international standards for global acceptance.

Prof. Ossy Kasilo, the Regional Adviser For Traditional Medicine for WHO Africa says Africans must work together towards the development of traditional medicine. She notes that the region shouldn’t expect other nations, especially in Asia to come and assist scientists in innovating traditional medicine.

During a presentation to the WHO delegation, Dr. Lamwaka, said that lack of funds from the government has stalled the clinical trial of the Covilyce-1 herbal product.

Dr. Lamwaka said that since the invention of the Covilyce-1, there has been anecdotal evidence that the natural product clears the COVID-19 virus within 12 to 72 hours of use by patients.

Last year, President, Yoweri Museveni authorized the release of Shillings 3.7 Billion to fund research on Covilyce-1 herbal products after a meeting with Dr. Lamwaka and a team of Gulu University officials. Dr Lamwaka says the money hasn’t yet been released.

She requested WHO to offer financial support for setting up a traditional medicine hub at Gulu University for the advancement of knowledge in traditional medicine research.

Brenda Nakzibwe, the Program Coordinator Presidential Science Initiative on Epidemics (PRESIDE), says that the government has undertaken the capacity building of scientists in the wake of the COVID-19 and has seen success in innovation.

She says the country’s own vaccine UVB-01N has already undergone clinical trials adding that the results of the trials will be released soon by the Government.

Dr Neville Okuna Oteba, the Commissioner of Pharmaceuticals, and Natural Medicines at the Ministry of Health says that the government is committed to supporting the advancement of traditional and complementary medicine for use within and beyond the country.

In 2020, WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched an expert advisory committee/panel to provide independent scientific advice and support to countries on the safety, efficacy, and quality of traditional medicine therapies.

The move was a joint effort aimed at enhancing the research and development of traditional medicines for COVID-19 in Africa. The 25-member Regional Expert Committee on Traditional Medicine for COVID-19 is supporting countries in collaborative efforts to conduct clinical trials of traditional medicines in compliance with international standards.

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