Jean-Jacques Cornish

The hard truth that miracle remedies simply don’t exist

by Jean-Jacques Cornish

In journalism 101 we were taught never to give the oxygen of publicity to quack remedies for dreaded diseases.

That’s why you don’t read, hear or see about cures for cancer in anything approaching responsible media.

Believe me, these emerge daily from the crazies and the con-artists seeking attention or a fast buck.

So it was to be expected that miracle antidotes to COVID 19 would be flung at editors very early on in the pandemic.

They could safely ignore almost all them –  until heads of state got involved.

Madagascar’s deejay turned President Andry Rajoelina seeks international endorsement of a remedy for COVID 19 made from the leaves of the artemisia which has provided relief to some malaria sufferers.

He could have saved his blushes had he sat in on my journalism cadet course all those years ago.

And the bench next to him could usefully have been occupied by the United States television game show star turned President  Donald Trump who advocated another outdated malaria remedy, the outdated chloroquine,  for curing COVID 19.

That was before he  threw the medical reins between the horses last month and urged COVID 19 patients to inject disinfectant and shine ultra violet light into their bodies.

Time magazine reports the American Association of Poison Control Centres finding a 121% increase in poisoning from bleach and other disinfectants in April 2020 over the same month the previous year. 

Rajoelina cannot match Trump’s lethal milestone. However his angry assertion that the African Union has rejected the herbal remedy known as COVID ORGANICS only because it was not developed by a European company shows he has a sense of the ridiculous every bit as well-developed as his Washington counterpart.

And he evidently shares the Donald’s penchant. for disregarding the media that does not reflect his  views.

How else could he have overlooked the storm last month when two French doctors suggested that the COVID 19 vaccine be tested on poor Africans because they have not taken protected measures?

Doctors Camille Locht and Jean-Paul Mira have had the good sense to apologize for hurt and offense they caused.

The Africa’s continental body was furiously adamant that it citizens would not be used as guinea pigs.

So has the World Health Organisation,  Like the AU the WHO give the thumbs down to COVID ORGANICS  which has reportedly been tested on 20 people for two weeks. Hardly decisive.

Rajoelina can draw some comfort from the favorable attention his peers have given the Malgash remedy.

Tanzania’s President John Magafuli,  who evidently believes that his chemistry qualification  entitles him to be a COVID 19 maverick, sent a plane to collect a load of the remedy  in Antananarivo.

Guinea Bissau, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Niger  have also bought consignments.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is quoted as saying South Africa will help test and analyse COVID ORGANICS.

I fully support African solutions to African problems. But this is surely a classical case for caution. 


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.