Covid 19 and CVO of Madagascar

Covid 19 and CVO of Madagascar



The whole world is in the battle against the Coronavirus. This battle is fought on all fronts. Everyone has been working at their full capacity to maximize the chances of winning this battle for the past few months. We use all possible weapons that we can imagine against this deadly enemy called COVID 19. In Madagascar, the echo of this new product called CVO is promising, but also a source of doubts… With very diverse reactions inside and / and outside the country.

We will try to share a little reflection through these 5 points:

1) Traditional medicine.

  1. Traditional healers: Roles of these traditional healers in rural and urban communities
  2. Traditional medicine in the Malagasy society

2) About IMRA

3) Reactions:

  1. For
  2. Against
  3. Those who wait to consume it or not.

4) Role of Catholic Christian Leaders.



Traditional healers: Roles of these traditional healers in rural and urban communities

According to WHO data, 80% of the African population (including Madagascar) use traditional medicine to meet their health needs.

The traditional healer is a person recognized by the community in which they believe as competent to diagnose the sick and disabled and to provide care through the use of plant, animal or mineral substances, and other methods based on the foundation sociocultural and religious, as well as knowledge, behavior and beliefs related to the physical, mental and social well-being of the community.

Medicinal plants in Malagasy society

15 Sep 2018

Madagascar has more than 13,000 medicinal plants, at least half of which are endemic. A self-respecting Malagasy knows at least two or three medicinal plants: guava leaf for diarrhea, eucalyptus for colds, cypress for gout, etc. Healing with plants is a habit and traditional medicine is still very present.

Traditional knowledge

The use of plants for therapeutic purposes has always been practiced by the Malagasy people. This knowledge is passed from parent to child or from simple citizen to elected official. Those who obtained their knowledge from their parents or ancestors market herbal medicines to the general public. Those who have received their knowledge from one or more ancestors only care for patients who live in their village or those who know them by word of mouth.

Traditional healers

Traditional healers communicate with spirits to obtain the blessing that will condition their powers, knowledge and effectiveness. They go to the forest (sometimes inside national parks) to pick the plants that only they can recognize. ANTM (National Association of Traditional Healers of Madagascar) brings together more than a thousand traditional healers with the intention to formalize their status and their practice to better care for patients and protect their knowledge, to distinguish them from charlatans.

A habit to treat ailments

Most Malagasy people still rely on medicinal plants for treatment due to the lack of doctors. In landlocked areas, medicines are expensive and access to a pharmacy is almost impossible. Some people simply do not trust modern medicine and prefer to treat themselves in the traditional way. Even the population of large cities usually uses phytotherapy. According to the WHO, it is about 70% of the population.

Medicinal plants in the daily lives of the Malagasy people

  • The most famous Malagasy  medicinal plants

Eucalyptus leaves, Madagascar periwinkle, Aloe vera, mandravasarotra (Cinnamosma), ravintsara (Ravensara aromatica), Armetesia Annua and niaouli are among the best known medicinal plants. They are used daily by the Malagasy people and exploited to manufacture medicines and cosmetic products.

  • The most common plants

Aloe vera is a plant that everyone knows, being present in many cosmetic and hygiene products. The gel, mixed with honey, is used by the Malagasy people to treat gastritis and ulcers. Ravintsara is also a plant commonly used in the same way as the eucalyptus leaves. During the winter, we put them to boil, inhale the steam and drink a small amount to treat colds and various respiratory ailments.

  • The plant of convoy: ARTEMESIA ANNUA

As soon as we talk about Artemesia Annua, there is this company which is based in Fianarantsoa called: the BIONNEX, it extracts the plant (Artemisia annua) to make powder.

The mission of this Malagasy company created in 2005 is the production of Artemisia annua. But it does not stop there, because it goes as far as the extraction of the precious active substance, thanks to a technology to which it did not even have access when it started in 2005. Moreover, at that time, there was not even a market. Fortunately, nowadays, demand has increased from 3 million tonnes  to 400 million tonnes. All because in 2003 the WHO decided that to cure malaria, it was this crystal and not another. The company sells the product once purified (these are white crystals) to the Novartis laboratory for the manufacture of Coartem, a drug now considered to be the most effective for treating malaria attacks. The other laboratory, Sanofi, has chosen semi-synthesis so as not to depend on a market with fluctuating prices … but the drug has a worse reputation according to expatriates.


The Malagasy  Institute for Applied Research (IMRA) is an institute founded in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, by Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga, his wife Suzanne and Pierre Boiteau among others, to carry out biochemical research in order to treat the population. Its creation was possible thanks to the financial benefits of a healing medicine, Madecassol, from the plant Centella asiatica.

In 1998, IMRA was made up of 102 people, including 32 researchers and technicians. It includes a botanical garden, a pet store, and research laboratories in phytochemistry, parasitic and cellular pharmacology, experimental diabetology, pharmacodynamics and toxicology and practices analytical chemistry of essential oils.

In 2012, IMRA became Foundation Albert et Suzanne Rakoto Ratsimamanga, recognized as of public utility by the Government Council on October 2, 2012.

It was IMRA that produced COVID ORGANICS (CVO), 62% of which is Armetesia.


With the social and historical situation of the Malagasy, the reception of this TAMBAVY (CVO), should go in the direction of a usual and positive practice of the population: traditional medicine. But there are three population groups; each group has its strategies to convince the population, using all means, up to “false information”. And knowing full well, that there is this lobbying situation of all these pharmaceutical companies, which use means to sell their products rather processed than natural products like medicinal plants.

A.Favorable reception:

Those who are convinced of the importance of traditional practice. Patriotism is one of the motivations of these people to use CVOs: “Vita Malagasy” = “Made in Madagascar”

Those who practice more and more natural medicines (see point 2)

Those who are relieved, like what there is, at least, this quick fix in the face of this great danger.

Those who are on the side of the power in place, and who are looking for all the means to convince the population (even to manipulate) to consume CVO.

B.Unfavorable reception,

This is mainly due to political intervention, which led to a reaction of refusal and also of suspicion as well as fear of being scammed. Because a good part of the population becomes more and more negative compared to all that touches the political life of the country. There are also revolts on the ways of distributing the CVO: at the level of schools, institutions… Considering what we call “the protocols” to follow, for its validation, has not yet started as drugs, this situation leads professionals or scientists not to prescribe this CVO.

In this group, there are those who are in the refusal of everything that comes from the power in place, and use means (or all means) to denigrate this product, therefore its initiator; the power in place.

C. The undecided group

The “undecided” group is mainly people who wait for there to be convincing results or not before consuming.


To finish I will take what Professor Balaka Ekwalanga Michel says: “What about plants and other traditional solutions? ”

Since the discovery of covid-19, the need for plant and other traditional effects has increased significantly. To fight against the unwanted guest represented by the pandemic, on social networks abound, in order more than ever dispersed, campaigns that extol the merits of plants, roots etc. Experience soon showed that the irresponsibility of the euphoric amateurism of some internet users has cost lives.

Without brushing aside the virtues of traditional medicine, Professor Ekwalanga nevertheless calls for caution. He advises, moreover, to be guided by the professionals in the field and “not to be judge and party”. Also, he argues, there are modern approaches to medicine in Africa. At the same time, he deplores the opportunism and “quackery” with which a slew of people offers unfounded escape routes: a colossus with feet of clay.

Professor Ekwalanga defines himself as a Democrat. If he admits that anyone can embark on the race to find the solution, since it is a question, he says, of adding forces. He nevertheless requires that each one be capable, as a proven scientist, of producing evidence necessary to provide a scientific basis for what we advance. ”

MOHA – MCCP – Ihosy (Madagascar)