WHO Africa

May 17, 2020

Should Integrative Medicine Organizations Endorse the WHO-Africa Statement on Traditional Medicines and COVID-19?

On May 4, 2020, the Africa office of the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement on COVID-19 deeply at odds with policies in Europe and North America. Of the hundreds of millions of dollars with which governments and foundations are spending on research, virtually nothing is directed toward potential traditional, complementary and integrative contributions. Media coverage of the widespread interest in such approaches, when it occurs, focuses on extremes. The Wall Street Journal led with cow dung, garlic and prayer and Nature with “cow urine, bleach and cocaine” together with the broadly dismissive “pseudoscience” and “bunk”. Scores upon scores of in vitro and other trials showing antiviral activity of herbs are dismissed.  In contradistinction, WHO’s statement models calmness and reason. The agency calls for research while warning about over-claims. Should WHO’s integrative, inclusive statement be actively endorsed by natural health and integrative organizations?