Government has approved the importation and use of a drug called Ivermectin which some health practitioners have hailed for its ability to deal with Covid-19.
“In these difficult times of COVID-19 treatment, we have to be careful to protect patients as well as not to deny them effective treatment regimes,” said a statement by the Health Ministry addressed to the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ).
“It is in this regard, the authority is hereby granted for you to proceed to allow importation and use of these medicines under the supervision and guidance you outlined. Ivermectin can be evaluated for both treatment and prophylaxis,” the ministry said.
This ministry’s decision comes a few days after the deaths of three cabinet ministers and several top government officials from COVID-19 in a short period of time.
Doctors recently formally appealed to the government for permission to use Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients, asserting the drug is part of a combination that has proved to be “a game-changer” on the ground.
The College of Primary Care Physicians of Zimbabwe (CPCPZ) said Ivermectin, used to treat many types of parasite infestations in animals, and Nanosilver, used for antibacterial and antifungal purposes in water treatment, have shown positive results in the past five months.
Despite being a 40-year-old drug, Ivermectin is not registered in Zimbabwe. Doctors complete “section 75” forms every time they use it. The forms are for special exemption to use unregistered medicines.
Researchers say flawed studies backing the drug have stoked black market sales, hampered further scientific research and swayed government responses to the pandemic.
“The policy decisions of ivermectin in Latin America have been largely based on the analysis presented in a pre-print in early April,” experts at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health said.
A pre-print typically means a study that has been put on the internet but not undergone peer review — the process by which findings are scrutinised by other scientists before they are published in a scholarly journal.
The paper was later retracted after experts raised methodological concerns.