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COVID-19 fund gives GH¢1.8m for herbal medicine research

BY: Chris Nunoo
Justice Sophia Akuffo (left), Chairperson, National COVID-19 Trust Fund, addressing the meeting in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
Justice Sophia Akuffo (left), Chairperson, National COVID-19 Trust Fund, addressing the meeting in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO

The National COVID-19 Trust Fund has presented over GH¢1.8 million to the Centre for Plant Medicine and Research (CPMR) for research into the development of herbal products against SARS COVID-Two virus and the COVID-19 virus.

The financial support is also intended to enable the CPMR at Akuapim Mampong to undertake a full-scale research and the development of antiviral and immunomodulatory herbal products.

The Chairperson of the National COVID-19 Trust Fund, Justice Sophia Akuffo, at a signing ceremony at the office of the trust fund at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday[June 9, 2022], said: “It was in consideration of the innate national value of the work of the centre that the trust fund deemed it appropriate to support its request for financial support to further develop the two products”.

She said it was also to collaborate with the centre in any other relevant potential research initiative aimed at discovering more efficacious local solutions to the health challenges the country faced, particularly in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“So far, they have done a lot of work on the Immune and Ampoforte which has been registered by the Food and Drugs Authority. These two herbal products are formulated to support the immune system for the effective treatment of SARS, COVID-Two and the COVID-19 disease,” Justice Akuffo stated.

Objectives

Sharing her experience on how medicine from the CPMR had cured her ailment as a child, Justice Akuffo said, she expressed belief in the efficacy of the work that was being done at the centre.

She said the main objective for the support was to enable the centre to carry out pre-clinical studies on the two registered products and six other medicinal plant extracts to confirm and establish pre-clinical efficacy against the virus and safety.

Justice Akuffo also mentioned the formulation and reformulation of immune support anti-viral products against COVID-19, saying the role of plant medicine in the health delivery system in the country had gradually improved with the CPMR playing a pivotal role in the field.

Background

The CPMR was established in 1975 and it focuses on research into herbal medicine and the development of herbal products.

The centre also seeks to meet the needs of both patients and industry through innovative scientific research and productive partnerships.

It has developed two herbal products known as Immuniom and Ampoforte which serves to support the immune system.

Donations

Touching on donations and activities of the trust fund since it was set up in March 2020, the former Chief Justice said:

“The COVID-19 National Trust Fund has to date received an amount of GH¢62.34 million in donations.”

At the same time, she said the fund had disbursed GH¢50 million in support of preventive health, detective and curative areas.

It was also to educate the public against stigmatisation and to encourage the public to vaccinate, among others.

Ms Akuffo further cautioned Ghanaians against forgetting the devastation caused by COVID-19 and pointed out that COVID-19 had come to stay and therefore “we dare not lose our guard only to be taken by surprise.”

She also appealed to all corporate institutions, civil society organisations, social groups and individuals among others to support the fund for the discharge of its mandate with more donations in cash and in kind.

Success story

A minister of State at the Presidency and Minister responsible for the COVID-19 National Trust Fund, Freda Prempeh, urged the media to tell the success story of the fund.

“Let the public know that the amount of money that people are donating to the trust fund is being used judiciously and it is affecting and impacting lives,” she stated.

The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, for his part, expressed the hope that the country would be able to produce its own vaccine within the next decade.

He said a committee set up by President Akufo-Addo to see to the processes was working together with all the research bodies at the universities and other institutions in the country to make sure in 10 years “we shall come out with our vaccine.”

The Director of CPMR, Professor Alex Asase, who signed on behalf of the centre was grateful for the gesture and described it as timely and significant.

He said the centre had carried out several studies using its Internally Generated Fund (IGF) since the inception of the pandemic and appealed to the stakeholders to help the centre with the necessary funding to embark on a rigorous drug development exercise from medicinal plants.

He said the studies led to the development of two immune boosters and initial studies showed that the products had antiviral properties.