By Pearl Kupe
News is just in advising that the medicines regulator, SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), will allow the public access to the drug Ivermectin.
The CEO of Sahpra, Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, announced today that Ivermectin will be allowed for treatment and prophylaxis of Covid-19.
She said: ”We will facilitate a controlled compassionate access programme”.
The official turnaround followed a groundswell of grassroots protest by SA citizens which is documented later in this report. And in another development today, the ACDP, joined by Doctors For Life International, launched an urgent application in the High Court seeking the right for registered medical doctors to prescribe Ivermectin for Covid-19 treatment. Upon learning later today of Sahpra’s go-ahead on the drug, the ACDP said it will study the regulator’s guidelines once they are available, and take advice from both medical practitioners and its legal team.
Ivermectin, the ‘wonder drug‘
The use of Ivermectin to treat Covid-19 has been a sore subject over the past couple of months and point of great debate. It is listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an essential medicine and has been proven medically safe. The discoverers of Ivermectin won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. And the drug is cited by WHO as delivering an 83% recovery rate from Covid-19 and also as being safe for use by children.
The South African medical councils and regulators have not allowed the use of Ivermectin on humans, citing its primary use in South Africa as for animals. A number of people in SA, however have been using Ivermectin to successfully treat Covid-19. Others such as myself, have used it for its prophylactic preventive attributes.
My personal experience with Ivermectin
Towards the end of December 2020, while in Nigeria, my attention was drawn to the usefulness of Ivermectin on a social media platform by journalist and former editor of Move and Drum magazines, Thandi Mthwetwa, whose whole family had been infected with Covid-19.
Thandi was advised by some doctors who specialised in Covid cases to take Ivermectin immediately. The drug, however was not readily available in any hospitals or pharmacies and she had to travel 80km to the nearest veterinary hospital to get the drug. After taking the recommended dose of Ivermectin, every member of her family was well on the road to recovery within 48 hours.
She gave me a lot of information on Ivermectin and sent me a batch of the drug. I also ensured that I asked about the drug while still in Nigeria. and was able to source it there. Nigeria has been successfully using the drug for decades to treat river blindness, a type of parasitic disease.
Coming back to South Africa on January 12, I was acutely aware that the second wave was upon the nation and that the Covid-19 strain that was in South Africa was said to have mutated and gained strength. I took Ivermectin a week after my arrival in South Africa and will continue to take it as a prophylaxis on a monthly basis to benefit from its preventive quality.
Salt & light active citizenry in play
The reluctance by SA health professionals and government to give quick access to the public to Ivermectin sparked huge public outrage. SA citizens mobilised themselves into groups and took on different responsibilities. Some formed a Facebook group, South Africa has a Right to Ivermectin (SAHARI) . This is a group of over 60 000 members who list themselves as an advocacy group that was created for the “urgent approval and efficient roll out of Ivermectin as basic medicine in South Africa”.
They were extremely efficient in mobilising support, drafting petitions and giving out information as well as educating the public on the usefulness of Ivermectin.
Others who took action was a group of close to 100 SA health professionals who, on January 15 signed a petition appealing to President Cyril Ramphosa to set up an urgent special council to conduct a rapid review of the antiparasitic drug. The petition was led by a general practitioner from Durban, Dr Naseeba Kathrada, who wrote a heartfelt letter to the president, urging him to save the lives of South Africans.
On January 24, the civil rights organisation AfriForum announced it would be taking health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Sahpra to court to allow for Ivermectin to be prescribed by doctors to treat Covid-19.
There were other groups and individuals who were recently mobilised into action to petition for access to the drug Ivermectin. Of critical importance is that this public response has shown us in South Africa, that the voice and accompanying actions by the people count for something.
Action was not taken by government ministers, members of parliament or those we refer to as “politicians”. Instead, action was taken by ordinary citizens who were passionate about the cause and moved into action by the plight of the people.
This is promising and very exciting! KE NAKO SOUTH AFRICA! This is what South Africa needs and has been waiting for! VIVA ACTIVE CITIZENRY VIVA!
In a press release today regarding its High Court application, the ACDP said it will seek various orders, including removing any and all restrictions on the use of the drug in South Africa, provided it has been prescribed by a registered medical doctor, as well as an order declaring that the failure by the Minister of Health, Dr Mkhize, and Sahpra to ensure that Ivermectin is accessible to all those who need it is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid.
“At a time when Covid-19 is spreading rapidly, it is deeply concerning that medical doctors have been unable to prescribe Ivermectin when treating Covid-19 positive patients,” says the ACDP.
It says a key part of its case is that Sahpra could and should have relied on the WHO’s assessment of the drug.