The World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed on rules for the testing of African herbal remedies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sound science would be the sole basis for safe and effective traditional therapies to be adopted, it said.
Any traditional remedies that are judged effective could be fast-tracked for large-scale manufacturing.
Madagascar’s leader has been promoting an untested product he says can cure the disease despite the WHO warning against using untested remedies.
The WHO said the new rules were aimed at helping and empowering scientists in Africa to conduct proper clinical trials.
The move comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide passes 30 million, with reported global deaths standing at more than 957,000. In Africa, there have been more than 1.3 million cases and than 33,000 reported deaths.
Around 140 potential vaccines for COVID-19 are being developed around the world, with dozens already being tested on people in clinical trials.
Alongside these efforts, the green light has now been given for phrase three clinical trials using African traditional medicines.
A panel of experts, set up by the WHO, the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the African Union Commission for Social Affairs, has agreed on the protocols.
Phase three trials usually test the safety and efficacy of a drug on larger groups of participants.
“The adoption of the technical documents will ensure that universally acceptable clinical evidence of the efficacy of herbal medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 is generated without compromising the safety of participants,” said Prof Motlalepula Gilbert Matsabisa, the panel’s chairman.