COVID-19 : WHO halts use of Hydroxychloroquine / Chloroquine over safety concerns

The World Health Organization-WHO, has halted the use of Hydroxylchloroquine and Chloroquine for the treatment of the COVID-19, owing to recent a report about  acute side effects.

A report published by The Lancet on May 25, warned that the drug could increase the risk of death.

Experts have also identified an increased risk of heart problems and liver damage as side effects of Hydroxychoroquine / Chloroquine.

Shortly after the report, WHO chief said  Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus the “safety data” of the drug was being “reviewed by the data safety monitoring board”.

One month earlier, the US Food and Drugs Administration – FDA had issued a warning on the side effects of the drug, citing heart rhythm problems in patients.

Following WHO’s warning, clinical trials in many countries have been suspended.

Why was  Hydroxychloroquine /Chroloquine used ?

Hydroxychloroquine /Chroloquine has been used to treat malaria, lupus and arthritis for over 100 years now.

In March 2020, three months after the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the FDA said the drug could be used to treat  COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.

Two months later, US President, Donald Trump said he was taking the drugs to prevent the deadly virus, but soon stopped.

Other presidents, in the likes of Nayib Bukele of El Salvador and Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro joined the US president to approve the drug’s efficacy in preventing and treating the disease.

The drug has since been used to treat COVID-19 in many countries, although no clinical trials have approved its use for the treatment of the disease.

WHO is still using the drug?

WHO’s warning has deterred some countries which had hitherto used it to prevent and treat the virus including India and France, from continued use.

Other countries including Brazil, still administer Hydroxychloroquine /Chroloquine to patients with light symptoms.

Will Cameroon comply with WHO’s warning ?

Cameroon is among the countries that have been using Hydroxychloroquine /Chroloquine to treat COVID-19.

Two months back, President Paul Biya authorized mass production of the drug by the Ministry of Scientific Research to tackle the disease in the country .

Dr. Manaouda Malachie, Public Health Minister has been keen on taking out the drug of doubtful quality from pharmacies nationwide.

It is not yet clear whether Cameroon will comply with WHO’s restrictions. But Public Health officials have repeatedly warned about the dangers of auto medication.


Kathy Neba Sina

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