PRESS RELEASE: Langeberg Unemployed Forum want to protect our communities from Covid -19

Xolile Mpini

Mon Feb 01 2021 22:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

We think Ivermectin should become available as soon as possible to the doctors and hospitals for the treatment of their patients.

Langeberg Unemployed Forum want to protect our communities from Covid -19
It has come to the attention of our organisation, the Langeberg Unemployed Forum (LUF), that there is a very low-cost treatment for Covid-19 that is banned in South Africa. We have lost close relatives who have died of Covid and the doctors did not have access to this drug because it is banned.

There are many people who will be in the same position. To ban a medicine that seems to have the power to do so much good in helping to keep people safe and heal them does not make any sense to us. We were even more puzzled when we Googled the name “ivermectin” and we read what it said.

“Ivermectin is a medication used to treat many types of parasite infestations. In humans, this includes head lice, scabies, river blindness, strongyloidiasis, trichuriasis, ascariasis, and lymphatic filariasis. In veterinary medicine, it is used to prevent and treat heartworm and acariasis, among other indications. It can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin for external infestations.” We would need someone with Medical knowledge to tell us what all these names mean but it does say that the medicine is not used only for treating animals.

We then received a video by Veronica Ncube, the Activists Movement of South Africa (AMSA). She says that “Dr Campbell and Dr Omura Setoshi were given the Nobel Prize for discoveries in physiology and medicine. The wonder drug that won them this prize was ivermectin, a drug designed to treat parasitic infections. A drug that is listed on the World Health Organisation’s list of essential and safe medicines. A drug that is used by 60% of African countries currently and a drug that can be purchased over the counter now.”

She then addressed President Ramaphosa and asked, “Mr President, my question to you is, what would happen if you allowed us to use this drug to fight Covid-19? What consequences would this have for us South Africans? If you are following the current news from all around the globe and as the President I am sure you are, you will know that ivermectin has had great efficacy in curing Covid-19 in several countries with an almost 100% cure rate. With this in mind, what do we have to lose in trying this drug? I guess we only have a life to gain. Mr President Ramaphosa Sir, what consequences would this have for you and your government?”

Ms Ncube then speculates about the possible reasons for the failure to make the drug available when it can save lives. We do not think this is a political question. The President should have nothing to do with it. It is the responsibility of the SAHPRA and we in the LUF want to know why they are holding back. Google tells us that in countries that have the misfortune to have the scourge of the River Blindness disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that there must be “annual treatment with ivermectin for at least 10–15 years”. How is it that the WHO makes such a recommendation with a drug that the SAHPRA says has not been approved for use in humans?

But LUF is interested in the ivermectin drug for another reason. It seems that trained members of communities in the countries afflicted with onchocerciasis (River Blindness) played a very important role of distributing the drug to the members of their communities and ensuring that the medicine was used correctly.

This is what we found on the WHO website for the use of ivermectin, “A collaboration of partners built on large scale mass treatment of all at risk individuals created a unique community-based distribution system. In 2014 alone, 139 million people were reached with ivermectin by WHO’s Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis in 18 sub Saharan African countries and 109 million people were treated globally with ivermectin for onchocerciasis”. According to the WHO, both these diseases are caused by worm parasites. But the point we want to make is that 248 million people were treated with the drug, delivered to them by trained community members, but which the SAHPRA refuses to approve for use in humans because of “safety concerns”.

Let us be open. We think ivermectin should become available as soon as possible to the doctors and hospitals for the treatment of their patients. But it must also become available to everyone so they can protect themselves from Covid-19.

Our interest in this issue is because we see an opportunity for our members and those of other organisations like ours to be trained by health experts to deliver ivermectin to our communities across South Africa to save our people from the scourge of Covid-19. I am sure that donors would donate the funds to provide packages of ivermectin and whatever else is necessary to protect community members from Covid-19 infection. Trained LUF members and other volunteers could do the distribution to reduce the infection rate and stop people dying unnecessarily from the Covid-19 scourge.

Xolile Mpini (CEO), Ernest Selani, Phumeza Vicani, Vuyo Mrubata and Raymond Vicani are Executive Committee members of the Langeberg Unemployed Forum