By KINGSLEY MOGHALU
I believe Africa should seek homegrown cures to COVID-19. So I’m curious about Madagascar’s “COVID Organics” cure claim. But it ought to be independently and certifiably tested, to be certain it (a) is safe for general consumption and has no dangerous side-effects, and (b) actually cures the Covid-19 disease — just as other drugs touted as a cure even in the West. “African science” should meet this test too!
The President of Madagascar, Andre Rajoelina, has reportedly withdrawn his country from membership of the World Health Organization (WHO) and has called on African nations to do the same after WHO said the cure-claim should be tested.
I am fully aware of the international politics of science, in which scientific knowledge in Africa and of Africans is often questioned because it’s not “Western science”. Meanwhile, our raw materials are taken from the continent to make medicines in the west, which claims the intellectual property and thus guarantees their perpetual wealth from such knowledge, and then ships the manufactured drugs back to Africa at often high costs.
This is an application of the concept of worldviews (global strategic intent) and I discuss this application to science, technology and innovation at length in one of the chapters of my book Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s Last Frontier Can Prosper and Matter. My central argument in that work was that worldviews, especiallly as applied to science, technology and innovation, is the secret of the wealth of nations and Africa should reposition its economies to be driven by innovation.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has in recent years recognized the concept of “Traditional Knowledge”.
The next step for African countries, which have huge amounts of untapped “scientific capital” buried in their forests and ecosystems, is to step up their game and develop/refine this kind of knowledge and establish it in a manner that is credible and provable, much like Chinese acupuncture for example.
Knowledge systems (the different styles, systems and structures of knowing and establishing empirical reality) are one of the seven components of a clear worldview, and we need leaders who understand these concepts and can drive us in this direction in a post-COVID world.
Given the risks and sensitivity of the COVID pandemic, African countries can’t expect to make such claims without clear proof, and, in that event, without being challenged. If the belief is that the Western scientists are inclined to find a way to “kill” such claims as part of “scientific imperialism”, then we have scientists versed in standard “western” scientific traditions that should first do the job in the continent, and then provide evidence of that internal verification.
Science is a matter of exactitude for the most part, so what is scientifically true can be largely, even if not always completely, proven. We have seen this in the controversies over other Covid-19 medication hypotheses around Hydroxychloroquine, Remdesivir and so on, as well as the controversies over “cures” for HIV/AIDS.
The jury is still out on a cure for COVID-19. It can certainly come from Africa, but we can’t just expect that we or anyone else in the world should take anyone’s word for it without adequate proof.