Ghana approves use of chloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients

Story by Carlos Afanou

Ghana has joined the league of countries using chloroquine to treat coronavirus (COVID_19) patients.

Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman Manu, on Wednesday, said the government had given approval for the anti-malarial drug to be used for treating COVID -19 patients.

“We still have four cases on admission at Ridge Hospital, repeat tests have shown  positive [results], so we continue to keep them there. The doctors have started giving them chloroquine two days ago”.

“At the moment, we have enough stock to take care of all the people we have on admission,” he stressed.

Ghana in 2010 banned chloroquine as an anti-malarial medication because it lost its efficacy to treat malaria.

At the time, the National Malaria Control Programme indicated that chloroquine cured only 25% of malaria cases treated.

It was replaced with the combined therapy of the artesunate amodiaquin, which has a 97% cure rate for malaria.

The United States approved chloroquine in March to treat the deadly disease.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) followed suit and approved for the use of chloroquine to treat coronavirus patients in the sub-region.

ECOWAS supports the supplementary anti-viral treatment of coronavirus with hydroxychloroquine but said it should be for mild forms of the virus.

That means only patients displaying mild symptoms of the virus can receive hydroxychloroquine treatment for between 5-7 days.

In parts of the African sub-region, health experts have been researching on the efficacy of the anti-malarial drug for treating COVID-19.

The Kenyan government has already approved the use of the anti-malarial drug to treat patients.

Kenya’s Health Director, General Patrick Amoth, however, said the drug would only be given to critical patients.

Dr Amoth, however, cautioned against the sale of chloroquine over the counter.

Last month Australian researchers said some COVID-19 patients have responded “very well” to drugs used to treat malaria.

But health experts warn of the abuse of the drug.

Nigerian health officials on March 23 issued a warning over chloroquine after they said three people in the country overdosed on the drug, in the wake of President Trump’s comments about using it to treat coronavirus.

A Lagos state official told CNN that three people were hospitalised in the city after taking the drug. Officials later issued a statement cautioning against using chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment.

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