The drug Ivermectin has been approved by Belize’s Ministry of Health as a treatment option for persons with Covid-19. According to the Acting Director of Health Services, Dr Melissa Diaz-Musa the drug can only be obtained with a prescription. She explained to Love News what spurred the ministry’s approval of the drug.
Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Acting Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “To clarify it’s an anti-parasitic drug. It’s a medication that’s been used safely in humans and animals alike for many years. In the 1980’s Ivermectin actually won the Nobel Peace Prize for its use as an anti-parasitic in developing nations so that speaks a lot about it’s safety profile as well. Over the last few months as you know many countries researchers have been trying to look for medications that can help to reduce viral replication or look for a cure and we do know that this has not been established as yet there is no known cure. But the medical response team along with our Ministry of Health team here we sat down and we revised the research papers, all the articles, everything that we could to look at Ivermectin and its use in other countries and its use in protocols in other countries and we found that it had significant evidence that it has been beneficial in reducing the viral replication – so the multiplication of the virus in your body and some studies have also shown that it has helped with prophylaxis as well. So when we look at the pros and cons with using Ivermectin a decision was made to put it on our protocols for many reasons. It has a significantly high safety profile, it is effective, it is accessible and it is cost effective as well. So when you look at the flip side of not adding it, when you look at a drug like this that you know some protocols in the US and in developing countries have it in place and these protocols the one in the US is a group of critical care physicians who have sent out protocols that are being used all over the world now and they have it in their protocol as a drug to mange COVID. Ivermectin in the research that we have done has shown that it helps to reduce the virus multiplying in your system so once it enters your nasal tract or your mouth or your eyes it gets into your system and in some people it multiplies significantly and in other people it doesn’t. So the mode of action basically it reduces the viral replication so it helps to reduce the severity of the virus. So it’s not a wonder drug, it has shown to help. We do know that countries have had Ivermectin in their protocols like Peru, Brazil and they still do have a high mortality and morbidity in their population but because when we look at the safety profile the cost effectiveness, the data, the evidence that it has on it it’s basically looking at the risks versus benefits and the decision was then made that it would have more benefits.”
Since the news surfaced on how the Ivermectin drug could help with Covid-19 several reports have surfaced of persons self-administering the drug as a preventative measure. There have also been reports of persons buying it in bulk and having it in storage. This was prior to the ministry’s approval. Fast forward today and the drug can now only be imported and controlled by the Government of Belize. Dr Diaz-Musa noted that the self-administering, like with any other drug is not advisable.
Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Acting Director of Health Services, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “It’s not licensed for the management of COVID, and it’s not a mandatory treatment so we’ve decided to put it in the protocols because of what has been listed before in addition to the fact that we have moved the medication out of the general public’s hands because people have been calling with wrong doses injecting themselves trying to find a way to prevent themselves from getting COVID and it’s important that we put it back into the hands of the healthcare professionals. So we’ll be able to tell you the appropriate dosage for your weight, we could tell you the appropriate dosage for your age, we know the contraindications, we know the side effects so we would be better able to guide that person with regard to the use of Ivermectin. So I think that’s important. It helps to standardize the care that we’re giving, it’s not only Ivermectin we also give a lot of other medications to help with symptomatic relief, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Ibuprofen Oral Rehydration salts, vitamin C, vitamin D3 so there are many others areas that we also discuss with patients when treating for COVID. We are not advising that anybody stores it and for that reason that’s another reason why it’s been placed on the protocols. If it’s placed in the protocols the Ministry of Health will procure and have it at our health facilities so that if a patient goes to our health facility we have it there to give that person in the correct dosage with the correct information along with the prescription. So it’s not advisable for you to just go out and purchase bulk. You know human nature is that we will Google things, we will go and look for our own information and because of so much information on the website people felt that they felt compelled to buy it and after discussing all those we decided at the Ministry of Health and Wellness that it’s best for us to standardize its use and ensure that people are using it correctly.”