As COVID-19 cases climb in Cameroon, a cleric claims his herbal cure works

CDC Cameroon associate director for program and science, Dr. Clement Ndongmo, observes COVID-19 testing procedures for arriving passengers at Nsimalen International Airport in Yaoundé, Cameroon, July 1, 2020 via CDC/Flickr CC BY 2.0.

There was relative doubt when Archbishop Samuel Kleda of Cameroon’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Douala announced that he had found a cure for COVID-19 in April.

But now, with nearly 15,000 infections and over 11,500 recoveries in the country, Bishop Kleda says his unique herbal cure has treated about 1,500 sick patients who flocked to him to try the remedy since April.

The prelate says he sees patients who suffer from respiratory problems after testing positive for the virus.

“We receive people who are under respiratory difficulties. And after 24 hours, they start breathing normally,” Bishop Kleda told Cameroon’s state media, the CRTV, on July 7.

Bishop Kleda, who has studied herbal plants for 30 years, says he is collaborating with Cameroon’s Health Ministry to broaden the scope of his drug — a concoction of traditional plants.

In early June, he officially gave it the name “Elixir COVID:”

“I work with the Ministry of Public Health. We are analyzing the medicines and signs that can be perceived from patients,” he said.

Though the herbal treatment is still undergoing investigation, Dr. Ange Gilbert Kameni of the Douala Archdiocese Health Centre told CRTV he believes the supposed remedy is “efficient in the treatment against coronavirus.”

Cameroon's parliament has acknowledged the use of traditional medicines to roll back COVID-19 and urged the government to invest in research into potential treatments.

Prime Minister tweeted in late May:

The Government supports the search for local solutions, in line with strong indications from the @PR_Paul_BIYA May 19, 2020: “I also encourage all efforts to develop endogenous treatment for #COVID19 . ” #PaulBiya #BiyaSpeech #StopCOVID19 #Cameroun

In May, however, the government also released a statement “warning of quacks claiming they can treat COVID-19 to financially exploit people suffering from or worried about the virus.”

The World Health Organization for the Africa region says there is no cure yet for the deadly coronavirus — yet it “supports scientifically-proven traditional medicine.”

Cameroon is one of the hardest-hit COVID-19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, despite testing just below 150,000 of its 26 million people.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) warns that Africa’s low testing may lead to a “silent epidemic.”

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