Hwange residents resort to uncertified medicine to fight Covid-19

By Tinashe Mungazi

Residents in Hwange are reportedly using uncertified medicines such as Tsunami as preventatives against Covid 19 as fear of infections following a spike in positives cases grip the community.

This development comes as the country recorded its highest death rate in a day after 47 people succumbed to deadly pandemic yesterday bringing the total number to 636. 1112 new cases were reported bringing the cumulative cases to 25368. Hwange has so far recorded 28 positive cases with the infected self-isolating at home.

The medicine popularly known as Tsunami which comes in form a liquid is purported to decongest the nasal passage and alleged to also provide relief for flue. The substance is inhaled through steaming after pouring drops into boiling water or with some opting to drinking it.

The medicine which costs one American dollar has been selling like hot cakes as people scramble to get their hands on medicines suspected to assist in the treatment and prevention of contraction of the Covid 19 virus.

Social media platforms have been awash with circulating messages around tips on how to manage or prevent infection from steaming to eating or chewing herbs. Of these circulating messages the most popularly has been the one linked to how steaming kills the new strain of coronavirus.

The viral messages advise people to steam three times a day, adding various ingredients such as Tsunami, ginger, Zumbani, garlic, and other unspecified herbs until one sweats with belief that the inhalation of the substances as vapor keeps the air channels open and lungs clean.

Residents who spoke to CITE said there was general panic among people as a result of the increase in cases which prompted government to reintroduce a level 4 national lockdown. Under the measures, movement has been restricted while only essential service providers such as hospitals, supermarkets and pharmacies have been allowed to continue operating.

“These increases have actually shaken people especially the number of deaths thus there is a tendency to accept any form of tips that come around treating or preventing Covid 19. The most sought after medicine in town right now is Tsunami which comes in small bottles of 50ml and is known to bring relief to a number of ailments that include a flue, coughs, headaches, general body pains, sore muscles and to chase evil spirits. Before the lockdown one could purchase the substance from vendors at the bus terminus or flea market but now you have to be well connected to get it since these joints are closed,” said one resident who refused to be named.

Another resident, Margaret Nyoni said the healing power exhibited by the drug was response for the rush arguing that there was need for people to seek other methods of staying safe since the country was yet to take delivery of vaccines.

“This new virus seems to be deadly judging by the rate of infection and deaths we are currently witnessing as a country. People have started looking for traditional ways to deal with the pandemic such as steaming using different herbs including Tsunami. Worse still with the vaccine not likely to reach us anytime soon people have been employing traditional remedies against the virus,” she said.

A vendor said he had registered brisk business for the medicine as demand had peaked following circulating information suggesting its use.

“These medicines Tsunami and Zumbami have been on the market even before the outbreak of the pandemic. However, following the second wave people are not taking any chances as the demand for especially Tsunami which is very powerful is on the rise here in the district and province. We import Tsunami from Zambia and most of us are out of stock since borders are closed to human traffic. However, some are still able to get them across through the Zambezi river with the help of Zambian fishermen.”

Traditional methods make use of herbs, tree roots, bark or leaves which are either burnt for sniffing or turned into a liquid for drinking. There are known to bring relief for stomach pains, headaches, colds, flu, fever, immune boosting, to clean blood and as aphrodisiacs. However, health experts say there is no scientific evidence that steaming can kill Covid -19 and warn such advice is misleading.

Acting Hwange district medical officer, a Dr Saidi said using uncertified medicines could led to serious health complications including death.

“We are aware of such reports of people using certain medicines for treatment or preventing Covid 19. Yes, these are desperate times but we discourage the use of medicines that are not certified by government for such use. Yes, we live in global village were some may be prescribed certain types of remedies but those have to adhere to set standards to avoid health complications. All drugs given should be according to set and approved standards,” said Dr Saidi.

A recent survey conducted by UNICEF in African countries including Zimbabwe revealed that there was a generally shared belief that drinking of tea, use of mosquito nets and the taking of pneumonia vaccine protected against contracting Covid-19 pandemic.

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