Ivermectin is a WHO-listed essential medicine but banned in South Africa. Why?

Do the politicians and the medical scientists who have banned, and supported the ban on the importation and use of ivermectin in South Africa, take full responsibility for the deaths of people who die and could have been saved if they had not been denied access to ivermectin?

The two individuals who bear primary responsibility for the imposition of the ban are the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, and the CEO of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela. On their decision and consciences rests the potential death of people who could have self-treated on ivermectin or been treated with Ivermectin at home, in a clinic or by their own medical doctors.

Initially, SAHPRA said that "Ivermectin was neither indicated nor approved for use in humans", contending that it was an anti-parasite drug intended exclusively for the elimination of parasites in animals and "In terms of safety and efficacy there is no evidence to support the use of ivermectin and we do not have any clinical trial evidence to justify its use". Its use in South Africa to treat humans therefore remains prohibited until SAHPRA receives "clinical trial evidence to justify its use".

This is a most extraordinary statement, given that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has supervised the treatment of millions of people across Africa with Ivermectin, considering it a safe drug for use on a large scale and listing it as an "essential medicine" because of its excellent safety profile and broad spectrum of activity. Indeed, its discoverer Professor
Satoshi Omura received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for its discovery some 30 years ago.

In 1995 the WHO and associate organisations established the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) with the goal of eliminating onchocerciasis, an African disease commonly known as
river blindness. The main medium of attack on the disease by the consortium was the establishment of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI), which was found to be "a feasible, effective and sustainable approach, for treating the communities across 30 countries with ivermectin".

Some of the achievements reported by APOC in 2012 were:

  • 100.8 million people being regularly treated with Ivermectin in APOC countries.
  • 22 countries reported that distribution of ivermectin was carried out by 697 921 community-directed distributors.
  • More than 1.8 billion ivermectin tablets were delivered by communities.
  • More than 522 million treatments were provided by communities from 1997 to 2012.
  • The number of persons infected with onchocerciasis was reduced from 39.9 million to 15.7 million.

It has also proved to be surprisingly successful in controlling lymphatic filariasis, intestinal helminth, human strongyloidiasis and malaria-carrying mosquitos. In view of the evidence provided by the WHO and the APOC experience alone, concerns about the safety of Ivermectin in the treatment of Covid-19 patients appear to be entirely groundless.

Just what is going on? Why is the South African government rejecting the use of Ivermectin, despite the reports of successes achieved by doctors across the globe, reporting that they have cured Covid-19 infected patients by treating them with the drug. They report that if treatment starts early, all signs of the coronavirus disappear in as few as four days.

Why are governments questioning the "safety and efficacy" of Ivermectin in treating humans for coronavirus on the one hand, whilst the WHO and world-renowned scientists and doctors claim on the other that Ivermectin has the qualities of a "wonder drug" in curing humans? The safe use of Ivermectin by APOC in 24 African countries alone surely answers the question about safety.

That SAHPRA and its leadership seem to be totally unaware of the extensive use of Ivermectin by the WHO and APOC in African countries is troubling.

On the question of efficacy there is accumulating evidence of the success of Ivermectin both as a prophylactic for protection against contracting the coronavirus, and as a cure. The reason for the absence of the clinical trials demanded by the SAHPRA to prove efficacy was recently provided by Dr Jayanta Bhattacharya of Stanford University who pointed out that there is no financial incentive for any private individual or organisation to carry out costly clinical trials to prove the efficacy of the drug in treating a disease. However, there is nothing to stop a government and its agencies, including SAHPRA, that wants such confirmation from carrying out its own such trials.

The question to be asked by South Africans is whether their government has the right to prohibit them from purchasing or using Ivermectin simply because some "experts" think it might not be effective in protecting or curing them?

Section 11 of the South African Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights) says that "Everyone has the right to life". This means the right to protect our lives without intervention by the state.

Section 12 (1) says everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily; to be free from all forms of violence from public or private sources; and not to be treated in a cruel, inhumane or degrading way. Section 12 (2) guarantees that everyone has the right to bodily and psychological integrity, which includes the right to security and control over their own body, and not to be subjected to medical experiments without their consent. Will the new vaccines perhaps in the future be seen to have been medical experiments – especially when compared with the tried and tested drug Ivermectin?

Given the protections stipulated in the Constitution and the WHO experience with the drug, the ban on the purchase and use of Ivermectin by individuals and its utilisation by healthcare professionals in the treatment of their patients is irrational, unwarranted and unconstitutional.

The ban on Ivermectin must be lifted immediately. It is clearly arbitrary, without just cause and based on invalid and inadequate information.

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