The rise in herbal concoctions consumption in Malawi amid Covid-19

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Setting ginger ready for sell ,Picture by Daniel Namwini

LILONGWE (Malawi News Agency) —Second wave of Covid-19 has hit the country hard as numbers of people contracting the disease keeps rising at an alarming rate.

As of January 30, 2021, total confirmed cases had reached 23,497 and the number of death had reached at 687.

Every day, the country records at least 10 deaths and the deaths include those that are as young as 20 years of age which is contrary to the first wave where health experts used to say those that are old were prone to the disease.

As such government has put in palace strict measures to prevent the further spread of the disease such as employing officers in the main towns and cities to make sure that people are wearing face mask all the time.

However, Covid-19 is taking lives and has scared a lot of people as it has no cure. Families have desperately resorted to making herbal concoctions as home remedies which they believe deals with the virus.

A random visit to most households in Area 49 by Malawi News Agency (Mana) found out that most households are making these concoctions.

The reporter arrived at Ms Ethel Mpopo’s house a lady who tested positive for Covid-19 who attributes her healing to concoctions.

She narrates that few weeks ago she had a dry cough, sore throat and fever as such she decided to take a test for Covid-19 and tested positive .

“I was frightened knowing how deadly the disease is, so I went to self isolation to avoid infecting others as advised by the medical officials additionally my friends advised me to make some concoctions to speed up the healing process,” Mpopo said.

She added that she would make ginger, garlic, lemon juice to drink every day while in isolation which after few days she  noticed some changes and the fever was gone so were the others.

“Till today, I have never stopped making these concoctions I make sure that my household does not run out of it,” Mpopo disclosed confidently.

However, in his address on January 20, 2021 Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 Co- Chairperson, Dr John Phuka said Malawians should avoid large consumptions of these herbal concoctions that contain a mix of chemicals like alkaloids.

“These herbs stress important organs like the liver and the kidneys as well as increase demand of sugar or disputing sugar control.

“The   stress on your system is dangerous as organ failure resulting from these stresses may lead to death,” he explained.

Phuka advise that people should keep their diet simple to meet the daily needs and meet the increased demand for energy due to the disease as well as maintaining good rehydration by drinking water.

He said this allows the body to focus on fight and clearing the virus from the body with minimal disruption.

The Co-chair  added that people need to report early for good treatment as some are arriving at treatment while in severe state and others pronounced dead on arrival.

Health expert Mrs Dorothy Ngoma said herbs have been used in the communities time in memorial as such this is not the first time that people have gone to using these herbs.

She said there are lots of herbs that are on the market that people are using for different kinds of illness and some people have used them and testified that they have helped.

“This time of Covid-19, people are over doing it as they are mixing so many types of herbs and to some extent one needs to be careful because these herbs have chemicals within them and you don’t know what chemicals you are mixing.

“Some might work together well others might became poison and the liver and the kidneys may try to get rid of the chemicals as such one needs to be careful,” Ngoma noted.

She explained that the scientific drags has an amount of which one has to take but with these many herbs and medicines that people are using there are  chances of taking more than enough .

“What is happening with Covid-19 everybody has now became a medical person or a herbalist of some sort without knowing how to do it,” Ngoma observed.

Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN), Executive Director, Mr George Jobe said people have  right know but they seem to be very desperate and are chanting at anything that comes into the public domain as such government needs to come in to guide them.

He said some of the ingredients are known for example ginger, garlic and lemons but what is not known is the effects of the mixture.

“These are different ingredients and when they come to gather do they affect human beings or not this need to be checked. Someone need to check and if people should not exceed certain quantities or they can go any quantity when using these.” Jobe stated.

He added that there are relevant bodies that could test these concoctions and after testing that when government could come and inform people or guide them.

“We have people going beyond these garlic, lemon and ginger, we are talking about to other plants like blue gum leaves and steaming them do that have negative effects or not,” he pointed out.

Setting ginger ready for sell ,Picture by Daniel Namwini

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